Southern Tigers back in title race

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PKNS' Nazmi Faiz (right) trying to stop Leonel Nunez of Johor Darul Takzim from crossing the ball. Picture by sports247

JOHOR DARUL TAKZIM rekindled their title hopes with a 3-1 win over PKNS FC at the Larkin Stadium last night and keep their unbeaten home record in the Super League.

The much needed win would not have come at a better time for the Southern Tigers after demoralising back to back defeats to Perak (3-0) and Armed Forces (2-0) in away matches.

But the win did not come easy for Johor Darul Takzim, who had PKNS defender P. Gunalan to thank - when he put the ball into his own net in the 29th minute while trying to clear a Nurul Azwan Roya cross from the left, which was completely missed by Argentine striker Leonel Nunez.

Johor Darul Takzim took a 2-0 lead into the break when Norshahrul Idlan Talaha found the PKNS net with a left footed shot off a throw in by Nazri Ahmad.

Five minutes into the second half, PKNS sparked life into their game and looked like repeating their wins over big guns like Kelantan and LionsXII when their Liberian striker Patrick Wleh – easily the most dangerous player on the field pulled back for the visitors in the 50th minute.

The homesters paid the price in allowing play to go on while a PKNS player was lying injured on the field, instead of displaying sportsmanship and send the ball out.

PKNS responded and stayed in the game with Slovakian Roman Chmelo taking a shot at the southern state’s goal. Goalkeeper Zamir Selamat could only block his attempt and Wleh gleefully tucked the ball home.

It was a tale of missed chances by both teams after this but Safee Sali brought some urgency in Johor Darul Takzim after he came on for Leonel Nunez in the 70th minute.

And it was the national striker who set up Johor Darul Takzim’s third goal in the 85th minute. He made inroads into the PKNS on the left before relaying the ball for Nurul Azwan Roya to connect it home for a comfortable win and important three points.

With the win, Johor Darul Takzim moved back into third place with 28 points from eight wins, four draws and four defeats after 16 matches, with a goal tally of 23-22.

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