JDT win away to Pahang, move closer to fourth consecutive MSL title

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) marched closer towards a fourth consecutive Malaysia Super League (MSL) title on Tuesday night after a 2-0 win away to their closest rivals Pahang, thanks to goals by Gonzalo Cabrera and Natxo Insa.

Kedah replaced Pahang in second place after they came from behind to beat Melaka United 4-2, powered by Baddrol Bakhtiar's brace.

Three-time league champions JDT had arrived in Kuantan on a quest to avenge their FA Cup quarterfinal defeat to Pahang in April.

More importantly, three points would almost confirm a fourth league title with seven games left, giving new head coach Ulisses Morais the perfect introduction.

There was a minute's silence before the game to observe the 26th anniversary of the death of Malaysia legend Mokhtar Dahari.

Two minutes into the match, the visitors were on their way to completing the league mission after Gonzalo Cabrera put them in the lead.

Mohammed Ghaddar was the provider with a driving run, and low cross from the left flank that left the Argentine with a simple task to steer home past Wan Muhammad Azraie Wan Teh.

Cabrera is one of the brightest starters in the MSL, with all three of his league goals struck in the opening 10 minutes.

Pahang had yet to win a game since the resumption of the MSL from a five-week break, and they looked lethargic once again.

The Elephants, knowing for their attacking prowess, weren't doing much to penetrate, apart from some hopeful balls for speedy forward Mohammad Sumareh to chase down the right flank.

Ghaddar thought he had scored a second goal for his new club two minutes after half-time, but the Liberian's deft finish was ruled for offside.

Sumareh continued to try his best to trouble the JDT defence, but the Gambian lashed wildly from a good position.

Naturalised midfielder Natxo Insa, who has settled in nicely into the team after arriving from Spain, then saw his downward header land inches wide after a cleverly worked JDT free kick in the 55th minute.

It was Pahang's turn to have the ball in the net, but Matheus Alves' header was correctly ruled offside in the 62nd minute.

There were concerns as Ghaddar and Azrif Nasrulhaq came off with injuries. But JDT did not have any problems dealing with Pahang, who were lacking creativity.

JDT put the game to bed five minutes before the end, through a fluid move on the right.

It was started by substitute Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, whose dummy and driving run found Safiq on the edge of the box.

The captain slid in the oncoming Insa, who did not break stride as he smashed home past Wan Azraie to confirm the 2-0 win.

Elsewhere, Thiago Augusto grabbed a hat trick as Felda United overcame 10-man Sarawak 3-1 to continue their confident start in the second half of the league season.

Ten-man Selangor prevailed 1-0 against Perak, with Francis Forkey Doe scoring the only goal of the game.

Pahang: Wan Muhammad Azraie Wan Teh, Saifulnizam Miswam (C), Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria, Yamil Romero, Ahmad Syamim Yahya, Heo Jae-won, Afif Amiruddin, Muhammad Nor Azam, Zubir Azmi, Mohamadou Sumareh, Matheus Alves

JDT: Izham Tarmizi (GK), Marcos Antonio, Safiq Rahim (C), Gabriel Guerra, Gonzalo Cabrera, S.Kunanlan, Azrif Nasrulhaq (Fazly Mazlan 73'), Mohammed Ghaddar (Ahmad Hazwan Bakri 64'), Fadhli Shas, Natxo Insa, Amirulhadi Zainal