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JDT 3 Sarawak 1: Three more wins for Southern Tigers to retain title

Goal.com logo Goal.com 15-07-2017

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) was made to work hard they eventually triumphed over a plucky Sarawak side to emerge 3-1 winners in matchday 16 of the 2017 Super League season. The win at Tan Sri Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium on Saturday increased JDT's lead at the top to 11 points and they are now three wins short of retaining the title they won last season.

Kedah's failure to beat Selangor meant that the Red Eagles lose ground on JDT. Ironically, JDT could land their fourth consecutive league title against Selangor when the two teams meet each on 5 August 2017. Should Kedah failed to win their own respective matches until then, the title will head back down to JDT even before August.

There weren't the big changes that Ulisses Morais promised after the Pahang match in midweek with only Afiq Fazail and Hasbullah Abu Bakar coming into the team for the suspended duo of Amirulhadi Zainal and Azrif Nasrulhaq. While Pengiran Bala opted to field the duo of Nur Shamie and Tommy Mawat despite their involvement with the national under-22 side just two days before this match.

In the 12th minute from a counter attack, JDT went from defending a corner kick to scoring at the other end. Gabriel Guerra collected the ball almost at the halfway line before releasing the perfect through pass for Mohammed Ghaddar to slammed home a left footed shot into the bottom corner of Sarawak's goal to put JDT 1-0 up.

Despite the early goal, the game did not spark into life nor open the floodgates for the home side. In reality, Sarawak took the cue to retreat and keep their defensive shape - electing to commit only four players to any attacking moves. Sahil Suhaimi, Mateo Roskam, Tommy and Nur Shamie were tasked with the offensive side of things but they were easily outnumbered by JDT.

The same can be said of the Southern Tigers as they start to find the space they crave, hard to come by. Ghaddar had two centre backs on him while Milos Raickovic and Alif Hassan were doing a commendable job in limiting the space for the likes of Safiq Rahim, Natxo Insa and Gonzalo Cabrera to operate. It was no surprise that the 1-0 score remained until the half time whistle was blown.

The action picked up after the resumption of play with JDT looking threatening again in attack. Gonzalo Cabrera dribbled past a couple of players but had to see his shot palmed away for a corner kick by Aidil Mohamad in Sarawak's goal. With the team being on top, Morais took out Cabrera and Guerra - a decision that would swing the momentum to the away side.

One of the substitutes, Safawi Rasid's poor touch in the middle of the pitch in the 64th minute led to a counter attack for Sarawak. Raickovic made a rare foray forward and his cross was converted by Sahil to send the partisan home crowd into disbelief as Sarawak levelled it up at 1-1.

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However it only took Safawi 10 minutes to redeemed himself when he latched onto a cross field pass to drive towards the byline. His subsequent cross found the on-rushing Ghaddar, who made no error with his finish to put JDT back into the lead.

Then in the 78th minute, riding on his renewed confidence, Safawi made the perfect run that was matched by Safiq's precision through pass - rounding Aidil before slotting the ball into an empty net to make it 3-1 to the home side. And that was how it remained until the final whistle as Sarawak failed to offer any form of response.

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