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KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 -- Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) celebrated the return of spectators for selected Malaysia League (M-League) matches in style when they trounced Melaka United FC 3-0 in the Super League at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskandar Puteri tonight.
It has been exactly 384 days since the Southern Tigers enjoyed the support of their “12th player” and the victory tonight felt all the more sweeter as 2,000 fans thronged the stadium to see their beloved team carve out their fourth win of the season to continue to top the standings.
Defender Adam Nor Azlin gave the fans, who had to adopt physical distancing in their seating arrangements, what they came for when he headed the ball past Melaka United FC goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat as early as in the fourth minute.
Four minutes later, Brazilian Bergson da Silva pounced on a mistake by Melaka United FC defender Jang Suk-won in the box to put the Southern Tigers 2-0 up.
Although JDT controlled the game, Melaka United FC almost reduced the deficit through Haiti’s Sony Norde, whose powerful shot from outside the box struck the post with goalkeeper Muhammad Haziq Nadzli well beaten in the 50th minute.
Bergson then wrapped up JDT’s victory with his second goal of the night in the 82nd minute when he slotted home substitute Mohamadou Sumareh’s sublime low cross from the right.
The match was also watched by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, who was present to monitor the level of standard operating procedure (SOP) compliance among fans as stipulated by the government.
The match is among two Super League games being used as a trial to allow the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) to determine whether fans will be permitted into stadiums this season. The other match will be between Kuala Lumpur City FC and Sabah FC at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Cheras tomorrow.
Meanwhile, in another Super League match toda, Kedah Darul Aman FC (KDA FC) moved up to second spot with 13 points, one behind JDT, when they downed 10-man Sri Pahang FC 3-1 at the Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Setar.
Herold Goulan was shown the red car as early as in the 17th minute when he fouled Kipre Tchetche in the box.
KDA FC then capitalised on their numerical advantage to go one-up in the 36th minute through skipper Baddrol Bakhtiar. But their joy was shortlived as Sri Pahang FC equalised five minute later through Muhamad Nur Izzat Che Awang.
KDA FC, however, were not to be denied as their Liberian import Kpah Sherman put his side 2-1 up early in the second half before Baddrol got his second of the night in the 70th minute to ensure victory.
Terengganu FC, however, dropped a spot to third after being held to a scoreless draw by visitors Petaling Jaya City FC at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.
In the Premier League, Perak FC II ended their four-game losing streak with a dramatic 4-3 win over Selangor FC 2 at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh.
Perak FC II got their goals through Royizzat Daud (sixth minute), Mohd Zulkifli Zakaria (eighth, 79th pen), Muhammad Nazmi Ahmad (63rd).
Selangor replied through Saiful Iskandar Adha Saiful Azlan (34th), Muhammad Syazwan Salihin (38th) and Harith Haiqal Adam Afkar (52nd).
Despite the win, Perak FC II coach Syamsul Mohd Saad was far from pleased, saying: “I am grateful for the win but I think we could have done better.”