Terengganu continued their fine start to the season after defeating moneybags Johor Darul Ta'zim at home, courtesy of Vincent Bikana's first half goal
BY KEESHAANAN SUNDARESAN Follow on Twitter
Both sides started the game on full force as chances after chances were created within the opening 15 minutes. The combination between Amri, Mat Yo and Luciano Figueroa was particularly impressive and the Southern Tigers started the party, courtesy of an attempt from Amri on the 5th minute. However, the veteran's shot was collected easily by Sharbinee.
Three minutes later, the home side almost had their first attempt. Norfarhan Muhammad, who initially signed for Johor DT before deciding to make an u-turn and join Terengganu, tried threading a through pass for Marcio, but Asraruddin Putra was quick to intercept the ball.
Just one minute later, Johor DT came extremely close to striking first blood, but Figueroa's brilliantly executed attempt, unfortunately rattled against the crossbar.
But on the 16th minute mark, Terengganu stamped their authority on the game, as Vincent Bikana fired home from close range to put them ahead. The home crowd went wild, as Johor DT players looked shell shocked on the pitch.
Nevertheless, they got going with the game immediately, and push forward in search of the coveted equalizer. Terengganu definitely started playing better after netting the opening goal, and almost doubled their lead, if not for Fadhli Shas' excellent interception on the 25th minute mark.
Figueroa then showed top notch understanding with Norshahrul by playing a little one-two, but the final product from the ex-Kelantan man was parried away to safety by Sharbinee.
Cesare Jimenez's men kept pushing hard with Shakir Shaari pulling the strings in midfield, though Vincent Bikana and co seemed almost impossible to break down. Subsequently, Terengganu went into the break with a slender lead over their counterparts.
You would expect the away side to go gung ho after the break, but Terengganu responded to their boisterous fans by picking up where they left off in the first half. Bikana in particular, looked rock solid and was winning every single aerial battle against Figueroa.
But the ex-Panathinaikos man had tricks under his sleeve, and when he did finally evade Bikana's tight marking, Figueroa produced an exquisite effort that was dipping into the goal. Sharbinee though, pulled off a splendid save to keep Terengganu in front.
Norfarhan then tried his luck with a left-footed attempt, having found space on the edge of the box. But Izham Tarmizi was quick to save the shot and kept Johor in the game. Just two minutes later, Figueroa produced another stunning shot which looked destined to hit the back of the net. Having said that, Sharbinee miraculously produced yet another save to deny the Argentinean.
When all avenues seemed exhausted, Johor made several changes to alter the dynamics of the game. Amirulhadi Zainal, Nazrin Nawi and Safiq Rahim were all brought into the game, but Terengganu maintained resilience at the back.
In fact, they looked dangerous on the break, with Johor DT desperately pushed upfront in the last 10 minutes. Despite their determination, which is extremely commendable, Terengganu held on to secure a morale boosting 1-0 win over their title rivals.