ISKANDAR PUTERI: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) stepped into the final stage of the Malaysia Cup three years in a row after beating Sabah FC 4-1 on aggregate at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium, just now.
The victory ensured that Harimau Selatan remained on track to make history by winning four trophies this season after emerging as champions of the Super League, FA Cup and Contribution Cup.
The squad coached by Hector Bidoglio used the advantage of playing at home by putting pressure on the opposing team from the first minute.
The situation forced Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s team to defend more to avoid conceding an early goal after losing 0-1 in the first match at Likas Stadium before.
Fernando Forestieri tested the effectiveness of the opponent’s last defense in the ninth minute by releasing a long-range shot, but the attempt was successfully deflected by the goalkeeper, Damien Chien Khai Lim.
The 2019 Malaysia Cup champions almost broke the deadlock in the 17th minute due to Arif Aiman Hanapi’s free kick, but the winger’s pass failed to be used by Natxo Insa who was not controlled by the opposing player.
In the 25th minute, Khai Lim continued to show excellence by denying Bergson Da Silva’s double attempt to ensure that the Badak squad’s goal was not conceded until the end of the first period.
Bergson was again denied by Khai Lim in the 29th minute after the Brazilian-born striker’s attempt was successfully saved by the Sabah goalkeeper.
The JDT goal machine finally managed to tear through Sabah’s goal in the 35th minute after taking advantage of Corbin Ong’s uncontrolled pass by flying a header past the goalkeeper’s control.
Six minutes later, Sabah’s goal was conceded again thanks to Forestieri’s goal to put JDT in a comfortable position in the 41st minute.
The movement originated from Afiq Fazail cleverly looking for Arif Aiman who made a run into the box before giving space to Forestieri to make a powerful shot that shook the opponent’s goal.
Continuing the second half, Kim Swee tried to revive the rest of Sabah’s chances to reach the final stage of the Malaysia Cup by strengthening the attack machinery by bringing in N. Thanabalan.
Sabah surprised the hosts when they closed the gap by punishing the goalkeeper’s mistake, Farizal Marlias, who failed to catch properly before Taiki Kagayama quickly pushed the ball into the opponent’s goal in the 47th minute.
Bidoglio slowed down the pace of the game by making several substitutions to kill the opposing team’s momentum to rise in the match.
In injury time, JDT were awarded a penalty kick after the newly brought in Akhyar Rashid was brought down by Gerald Gadit, unfortunately Safawi Rasid failed to finish when the kick soared high.
Syafiq Ahmad who was brought in to replace Bergson scored the last goal of the match to ensure JDT progressed to the final in style.
JDT will find out who their opponent will be in the final stage when Terengganu host Selangor FC in the second semi-final at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, Kuala Nerus tomorrow. – ONLINE MESSENGER
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