Kelantan 2-3 Negeri Sembilan: Red Warriors suffer first lost
Fabio Leandro gave the Deers a glimmer hope as he astonishingly scored a brace to secure their 3-2 win against the defending champions in Kota Bharu
By Muhammad Izzat Akmal
Fakri and Norfarhan played some high tempo football from the start but they wasted a lot of opportunities. Negeri also had a golden chance when Nazrin Nawi chased down a loose ball after an Obinna Nwaneri back pass but he too failed to make it count.
When Kelantan captain, Badhri Radzi lost the ball in the middle, it triggered the visitors to launch a quick counter through Fabio who sent it wide to Sivanesan. Siva did well to put the ball in pass Khairul Fahmi to give the the Deers the lead.
Despite dominating the possesion, the Red Warriors looked blunt to find the equaliser. In the 21st minute, Obinna somehow managed to beat the offside trap but his effort at goal was save by Kaharuddin.
A minute later, the Deers' custodian was called into action again when Farhan was at the end of a Badhri pass. His strike was well-saved by Kaharuddin. Faiz Subri also had a chance seconds later but he snapped straight at the keeper.
The elusive Jangs' wall was finally broken when Farhan made a good run before sending a low cross to Indra Putra who made no mistake to equalise in the 37th minute.
The Deers struggled for the rest of the first half as Kelantan ran circles round them in their own six-yard box but they were lucky that the Red Warriors had no goals to show for it.
Kelantan started the second half similar to the first with a high intensity game which resulted in them taking the lead three minutes into the second half courtesy of Fakri Saarani. He successfully beat the offside trap to meet Norfarhan's cross to head home for the 2-1 lead.
Then, Negeri Sembilan had to absorb a foray of attacks from the defending champions. Faiz and Badhri had pops at goal but they were either too high or straight at the goalkeeper.
Against the run of play, in the 57th minute, Fabio equalised for the visitors. He received a through ball from Abdul Halim before calmly rounding the keeper to make it 2-2.
Kaharuddin was called into action once more to deny Obinna and Indra Putra as the home side pushed to find the winning goal.
Towards the end of the match, it was end to end action as both sides pressed on for the kill but it was Fabio who came out on top. He rose higher than everyone else to meet Eddy Helmi's corner to send the ball past Khairul Fahmi for Negeri's third goal.
The Deers then parked the bus, keeping out Kelantan's efforts to eke out an equaliser. They held on to take three points in Kota Bharu giving them a glimmer of hope to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Malaysia Cup.
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