Johor Darul Ta’zim produced a stirring fightback on Tuesday to come from behind and beat defending champions LIONSXII in the Malaysia Super League.
It was the LIONSXII who had taken the lead at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the 38th minute after a moment of indecision from opposition centre-back S. Subramaniam saw him opt to let the ball bounce instead of clearing it first-time, allowing Faris Ramli to nip in ahead of him and fire past Izham Tarmizi.
And three minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage after Gabriel Quak won a freekick 25 yards out from goal after being hauled down by Fadhli Shas; Zulfahmi Arifin stepping up and curling a sublime effort into the top corner.
But two minutes before halftime, Harimau Selatan pulled one back after the LIONSXII defence went to sleep as Luciano Figueroa played a quick freekick to Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who coolly flicked his shot over the onrushing Izwan Mahbud.
Darul Ta’zim were then presented a golden opportunity to pull level in the 53rd minute after being awarded a penalty in controversial fashion – referee Nazmi Nasarudin penalised Afiq Yunos for handball after Pereyra Diaz’s flick-on header in search of Figueroa had cannoned off him.
Figueroa was handed the task of converting from 12 yards and although his initial effort drew a smart save from Izwan, the Singapore international was powerless to stop him from poking home the equaliser on the rebound.
And 15 minutes from time, Bojan Hodak’s side completed a memorable comeback as their Argentinean duo combined to perfection once more; Figueroa receiving possession just inside the opposition half and playing the perfect pass to release Pereyra Diaz, who advanced on goal before slotting the winner into the bottom corner.
The result allowed JDT to move level on points with second-placed Pahang and they are now just five behind leaders Selangor, while LIONSXII remain eighth on the table and 13 points off the pace.
LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Hameed, Madhu Mohana, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah, Safuwan Baharudin, Firdaus Kasman (Sufian Anuar 60’), Zulfahmi Arifin (Hafiz Abu Sujad 71’), Gabriel Quak, Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri.
Johor Darul Ta’zim: Izham Tarmizi, Daudsu Jamaluddin, S. Subramaniam (Aidil Zafuan 71’), Fadhli Shas, Asraruddin Putra Omar, Amri Yahyah, Safiq Rahim, Hariss Harun, Jorge Pereyra Diaz (Marcos Antonio 87’), Safee Sali (Mahalli Jasuli 46’), Luciano Figueroa.