BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
The Red Warriors triumphed against all odds in Ipoh as they overcame being a goal down to eventually hammer Perak 2-4 in a match played on Wednesday night at Perak Stadium. Mohamed Ghaddar claimed the match ball by scoring a hat-trick while Perak will have to take a hard look at what went wrong despite Vladislav Mirchev grabbing two goals on the night.
Mehmet Durakovic kept faith with the team that played to a 2-2 draw against Felda United the last time out, rewarding Zaquan Adha with another starting spot after his goal in Jengka while electing to keep Faton Toski on the bench. Zahasmi Ismail sprung a surprise by starting Khairul Izuan up front and dropping Khairul Fahmi for Ramadhan Hamid in the goal keeping department.
It was Zaquan who justified his selection in the 18th minute when he consecutively beat Qayyum Marjoni and then Zairol Fitree to the ball before floating the perfect pass beyond the out-of-position Ramadhan for Mirchev to head in the opening goal. Stunned, Kelantan can have little to argue given the forceful manner in which Perak started proceedings.
The Bos Gaurus continued to piled on the pressure but with Mirchev, Zaquan, Nazrin Nawi and Yashir Pinto all looking dangerous but their lack of efficiency in front of goal allowed Kelantan to stay in the game and the home side were eventually punished for their profligacy in front of goal.
There were already several warning prior when Ghaddar kept breaking through the last line of Perak's defence only to be called back for being offside but he managed to beat the trap in the 38th minute to round Hafizul Hakim for Kelantan's equalising goal at 1-1. Shahrom Kalam failing to track the run of the Lebanese forward who pounced on a loose ball inside Perak's penalty box.
The goal seemed to shake the confidence out of the home side and Kelantan came out the stronger in the second half. Twice Ghaddar was denied when in similar fashion he took advantage of a very flat Perak backline in the 47th and 48th minute. However luckily for Perak, on both occasions, Hafizul won the one-on-one battle.
Not heeding the warning signs that they were given and without reactive instructions from the bench, Kelantan continue to benefit from the same tactics. Ghaddar looked slightly offside but played to the whistle in the 83rd minute when he ran onto Badhri's through pass to finally beat Hafizul on the third try to give Kelantan a 1-2 lead.
Badhri would again display his prowess in the final third, picking up the run of substitute Daniel Ashraf in the 86th minute, only for Hafizul to bring down the diminutive Ashraf and conceded a penalty. Ghaddar step up to confidently dispatched the spot kick to earn his hat-trick, sending Hafizul the wrong way in the process to make it 1-3 to Kelantan.
Referee had to hold off an enraged Zaquan after Thinagaran's heavy challenge. Credit: Vincent Phoon/CSN
Heading into injury a scuffle broke out on the flanks after Zaquan took offence to a crude challenge from S. Thinagaran. Both players were flashed the yellow card for their troubles but Perak still had the free kick. Hafiz Kamal's cross was headed on by Thiago for Mirchev to slam home from close range in the 2nd minute of stoppage time.
As Perak push forward to find the all-important equaliser, Badhri delivered the crushing blow to the home fans when he again found Ashraf with another brilliant through pass in the 3rd minute of stoppage time. Hafizul did well to block Ashraf's shot but the rebound fell kindly for Indra Putra Mahayudin, who couldn't waste a gaping goal. The experience forward scored to cap a wonderful match for Kelantan as they ran out 2-4 winners on the night.
A relieved Zahasmi showed plenty of emotions at the final whistle, vindicated by the performance of his boys who stuck to their game plan and were rewarded with a fine away win. As for Durakovic, the tough task of replacing Karl-Heinz Weigang, just got a little tougher and there'll be plenty for him to do ahead of Perak's next match.