Mistakes marked 1-1 draw in the first leg between Perak and Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) and both teams will go into the second leg still with a chance to reach the Malaysia Cup final. In a tight affair in Ipoh, neither side could be separated at full time with Hafizul Hakim and Izham Tarmizi on top of their respective games.
Mehmet Durakovic fielded Ahmad Khairil Anuar on the left side of the midfied with Zaquan Adha occupying the attacking midfield role behind in-form Gilmar Filho. Meanwhile Ulisses Morais dropped Fazly Mazlan to the bench and instead opted to have Hasbullah Abu Bakar taking up the left back role in an otherwise usual JDT starting XI.
JDT had the better of the early exchanges with Safiq Rahim forcing Hafizul Hakim into an early save in the 10th minute before needing to get his hand on Ignacio 'Natxo' Insa' shot just five minutes later as the league champions showed initial signs of dominating the match.
Against the run of play, Perak were the ones who took the lead in the 19th minute. Shahrul Saad did wonderfully to wriggle free in midfield before threading a through pass to Gilmar. The Brazilian's attempted pass to Zaquan Adha was picked up by Hasbullah but the JDT youngster unluckily sent his clearance past a stranded Izham Tarmizi for Perak to go 1-0 up.
Stung by the goal, JDT came back strong but continued to find Hafizul a tough wall to breach. Thiago Aquino's slip in the 38th allowed Mohammed Ghaddar to race through onto goal but Hafizul won that one-on-one battle before again getting a hand to another Safiq shot three minutes before the end of the first half.
The nervous Hasbullah was hooked off at the start of the second half with Morais deciding that Fazly's experience being more suited to the match. The substitution not only give JDT more stability on the left hand side of their defence but also provide an additional outlet in support of Gonzalo Cabrera down the left wing.
However the first clear chance of the second period came at the hand of Perak, with Zaquan reacting quickest to a Gilmar knock down but Izham was quick to come off his line to narrow the angle and ultimately stopped Zaquan's shot. Zaquan also had a header in the 67th minute that was well blocked.
The failure to increase the lead would come back to haunt Perak just a minute later. Thiago needed to go off to be medically attended to and JDT capitalised on the extra man with immediate effect. Shahrom Kalam's mistake was snapped up by an alert Ghaddar who cooly slotted home the equaliser in the 68th minute.
In the 73rd minute, Ghaddar was again through on goal but this time Hafizul came out on top. Just six minutes later, Zaquan had two opportunities to give Perak the lead again. Both times the forward put on the afterburners but he was caught up by Junior Eldstal the first time and saw his second effort palmed away by Izham.
Neither side could forge any further clear cut chances in the remaining minutes of the match and had to settle for a first leg draw. JDT hold the advantage with the away goal and they will be confident to finish the job in the second leg in front of their home fans next week.