Thursday, April 22

Velazquez saves JDT from blushes in draw with Perak FC


Perak FC were 15 minutes away from a famous win before Leandro Velazquez saved seven-time Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) the blushes with an injury-time penalty for a 2-2 draw at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh last night.

The late strike denied Perak FC from becoming the first team to collect all three points against the all-conquering JDT side and allowed the Southern Tigers to extend their unbeaten streak to 16 matches in the Super League, stretching back all the way to July 2019.

The country’s latest naturalised footballer, Guilherme de Paula ended his five-match goal drought in style when he netted a brace in the 34th and 59th minutes to put Perak 2-0 up.

Undeterred, the defending champions regrouped and redoubled their efforts, and were duly rewarded with substitute Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid’s first goal of the season in the 75th minute.

Just when it seemed like Perak FC were about to create the biggest upset of the season, so far, JDT’s all-out assault in the six minutes of injury time led to defender Muhammad Rafiuddin Roddin being penalised for a handball in the box, which Velazquez buried with aplomb from the spot.

Meanwhile, struggling Sabah FC chalked up their first win under coach Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto when they stunned second-placed Terengganu FC (TFC) 2-1 at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu.

The home side took a 2-0 lead through a Levy Madinda spot-kick in the 38th minute before Sam Johnson added his name to the scoresheet four minutes later.

Although TFC narrowed the deficit through Jordan Mintah in the 79th minute, the defeat must have rankled head coach Mohd Nafuzi Mohd Zain. Had they won, they would have leapfrogged leaders JDT but, as it stands, TFC remain in second spot with 10 points – one point behind the Southern Tigers.

Meanwhile, a solitary goal by D. Kugan was enough to ensure a second victory for Petaling Jaya City FC as they edged Sri Pahang FC 1-0 at the Petaling Jaya City Council Stadium.

In the Premier League, Negeri Sembilan FC had to rely on two late second-half goals to beat basement side FAM-NSC Project Squad 2-0 at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium, Paroi to stay atop the standings with 13 points.

Goals by Barathkumar Ramaloo (72nd) and Alain Thierry Akono (85th) ensured the Project squad remain rooted at the bottom of the standings.

The other Premier League match saw Sarawak United stay in second spot despite a scoreless draw with Terengganu FC II at the Hang Jebat Stadium. — Bernama