PETALING JAYA (By ERIC SAMUEL) : Pahang staged a dramatic fightback from two goals down to stun fancied Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) 3-2 in a pulsating Super League match at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan.
Big-spending JDT had a dream start – pulling away for a comfortable 2-0 lead in the first-half with goals from skipper Safiq Rahim (11th minute) and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (26th).
But little did anyone expect the Elephants to turn on the heat after the breather with three goals – starting with Mohd Fauzi Roslan’s brace in the 49th and 72nd minutes before R. Surendren fired home the winner in the 82nd minute.
Former Spanish international Daniel Guiza played a pivotal role in JDT’s two goals.
Guiza, a member of Spain’s Euro 2008 winning squad, provided a pin-point cross for Safiq to score with a glancing header past Pahang custodian Mohd Nasril Nourdin before sending a defence splitting pass for Norshahrul to double the lead.
JDT could have buried the Elephants in the first-half but Norshahrul, Safiq, Guiza and Nurul Azwan Roya were guilty of profligacy.
But the fast-tiring JDT were caught out by their own offside trap just four minutes after the restart, allowing Mohd Fauzi to reduce the deficit.
That goal inspired the home team and, backed by a sellout 30,000 crowd, the big-spending Johor side were put to the sword.
In an earlier match, former Kelantan hotshot Mohd Ghaddar Mahmoud got off to a good start with his new team Felda United when he scored the opening goal in the plantation giants’ 1-1 draw with Terengganu at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.
The 29-year-old Lebanese international was a big hit with Kelantan fans last year – scoring 20 goals en route to helping the Red Warriors to a treble.
Yesterday, he made the homesters pay with a brilliant solo effort in the 52nd minute before Ismail Faruqi equalised for the Turtles six minutes later.
Terengganu coach E. Elavarasan said the visitors were fortunate to escape with a point.
“It was our first competitive game and I’m satisfied with the team’s work rate. The players will forge better understanding with more matches under their belts,” said Elavarasan.
Felda United coach K. Devan believes his team still have a lot of room for improvement.
“Our striker (Ghaddar) was not getting much support upfront but he still did well to beat three defenders before scoring the opening goal,” said Devan.
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