Pahang returned home satisfied with their come from behind 1-1 draw, while Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) were left rueing of not using their home ground and 34,000 capacity crowd support at the Larkin Stadium.
With halftime score at 1-1, both teams returned to the pitch to adopt a more cautious approach, but that did not rob the excitement created for the first full half.
It was quick counters that both teams relied on, but it was Johor DT who had a better first thirty minutes in the second half.
Referee Mohd Zahri Tajudin was also under tremendous pressure as many of his decisions constantly questioned by JDT coach Bojan Hodak, while a senior Johor FA official was seen on numerous occasions harassing match commissioner Lt Kol (Rtd) Hj Kamaruddin Sakhari at his bench.
But president of Johor FA, Tengku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail, sportingly defused the tense situation when he walked up to the match officials after the game to shake their hands to the loud cheers of the fans. It was indeed a sporting gesture.
Host Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) and Pahang head into the break on level terms after a balanced first half in the FA Cup semifinal first leg at the Larkin Stadium.
Goals from Argentineans, Luciano Figueroa and Matias Conti, gave the two teams a goal each.
Pahang were the first with promising moves as Nigerian Dickson Nwakaeme had two shots on goal in the first six minutes but sent them wide on both occasions.
However, JDT stood up and took the lead with a set piece straight from training as Safiq Rahim squared a low cross to Figueroa, who sent a powerful shot past Khairul Azhan Khalid in the 13th minute.
Pahang refused to sit back and slowly crept back into the game. Azidan Sarudin sent a freekick from the edge of the last third of the pitch to Damion Stewart, who did well to head the ball into the box, leaving Conti to head the ball to level terms in the 36th minutes.
Things got heated towards the end of the match after a challenge by Stewart on Mahali Jasuli, leaving Saiful Nizam Miswan and Norshahrul with yellow cards.
Both teams had the opportunity to win the matches and while JDT’s Figueroa had two clear chances, Pahang’s speedy wingers Gopinathan and Surendran had a couple which were near misses.
However, for the effort put in by both teams, the draw was indeed a fair result, although Pahang looks like having the advantage for the return leg in Kuantan May 30.
But with matches with both these teams being closely contested, everything suggests that the winner in the return leg will probably go down to the wire and even decided by penalty shoot.
However, Pahang will be determined to make amends to their disappointment last year when they lost out in the semifinals to JDT on away goal.
Everything certainly points to an equally exciting clash in the return leg.