Pahang can count their lucky stars to have returned with a point from their come from behind twice for a draw 2-2 against Johor Darul Takzim at the Larkin Stadium.
Johor DT had themselves to blame for not picking up the three points which was for their taking but their many wasted chances despite being on top of Pahang, spoilt the night for them.
Johor DT had to thank striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz for their two goals where he set up in similar fashion beating several Pahang defenders for Luciano Gabriel Figuerao to score the first in the 27th minute and Safiq Rahim to score the second in the 47th minute.
For Pahang it was speedy demon R. Gopinanthan who was the hero of the team having set up the first for Azamuddin Mohd Akil to score in the 36th minute and Gopi himself scoring in the dying minute from an acute angle which slipped Johor DT goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi Roslan’s hand to drop into goal.
It was Johor Darul Takzim who were aggressors from the first whistle and had Pahang pinned in their own half most of the time, but they had to be satisfied with a 1-1 halftime score as they headed for the dressing room.
Johor DT were at least good for a two goal lead, but squandered the numerous chances they created with open goals missed by skipper Amir Yahya and new signing Diaz.
But Diaz was the one who worked hard and displayed skills to run around the Pahang defence on the right to set the ball for Figueroa and the easy task of beating goalkeeper Md Khairul Azhan Khalid in a one-to-one situation.
Jorge had the opportunity to score by himself after all his hardwork, but he choose to set it up for Figueroa.
Pahang certainly missing Dickson Nwakkaeme upfront as he was on the bench still recovering from an injury had to rely heavily on Matias Ruben Conti.
Relying on quick counter attacks Pahang manage to trouble Johor DT defence, especially with Gopinathan giving anxious moments with his darting runs along the flank.
It was Gopinathan’s run in the36th minute when he pushed the ball past Johor DT’s rightbackMohd Shakir Shaari and collected it again to push forward before sending a cross which saw Conti over run, but attacking midfielder Azamuddin came in at the right time to connect the cross past goalkeeper Izham to level terms.
Johor DT came back strongly after that to take lead again, but the Pahang defence managed to keep their goal intact.
While Johor DT coach Bojan Hodak at the end of the day was blaming referee Wan Muhd Tarmizi Wan Ibrhaim for not awarding a penalty in the dying minutes of the game when Amri Yahya looked like brought down in a penalty box scramble, he should actually be blaming on the missed chances his team had.
Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan had to dig deep into his reserves to bring on a still injured Nwakaeme in place of Azamuddin in the 75th minute and make some changes to his defence in bringing in veteran Jalaluddin Jaafar after Azizdan Sarudin had to be rushed to the hospital after he collided with his teammate Saiful Nizam. The absence of Mohd Razman Roslan who was serving suspension, further tested the Pahang defence to their limits.
Zainal must surely be returning to Kuantan a relived man as Pahang’s hope to wrest the title is still in sight. A loss would have seen them lose six points in two games after having surrendered their home record with the solitary goal loss to Selangor last week.
Startlist: Johor DT vs Pahang
Team Manager/Coach: Bojan Hodak
25 Izham Tarmizi Roslan (GK)
4 Asraruddin Putra Omar
27 Mohd Fadli Shas
44 Marcos Antonio
18 Mahali Jasuli
16 Mohd Shakir Shaari
8 Safiq Rahim
17 Mohd Amri Yahya (Capt)
11 Mohd Safee Ali
19 Luciano Garbriel Figueroa
42 Jorge Pereyra Diaz
Coach: Zainal Abidin Hassan
Team Manager: Dato’ Che Nasir Salleh
1. Md Khairul Azhan Khalid (GK)
3 Mohd Saiful Nizam Miswan
4 Damion Delano Stewart (capt)
6 Zeshan Rehman
12 Azamuddin Mohd Akil
19 Mohd Fauzi Roslan
20 Mohd Shahrizan Salleh
24 R. Gopinathan
8 Azidan Sarudin
9 Matias Ruben Conti
11 Mohd Faizol Hussain
Referee: Wan Muhd Ramizi Wan Ibrahim
Assistant Referee: Mohd Kamil Tumin
Assistant Referee: M. Sivanesan
Fourth Official: Khairul Rizal Ismail
Match Commissioner: Mej (B) Hj Ibrahim Radat