BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
Melaka United's winning streak came to an end at the hands of Pahang as strikes from Joseph Kalang Tie, Matheus Alves and Mahamadou Sumareh meant that the visitors took all the points from Hang Jebat Stadium. After putting six past Penang in the previous round of matches, Pahang's continued efficiency in front of goal are making them serious contenders for the league title.
There was a notable name missing from the Melaka line-up as Eric Williams did not have the service of Ilija Spasojevic and Sergio Aguero was only on the bench. Amri Yahyah was used as the lone striker with Jeon Woo-young supporting behind. As for Dollah Salleh, he opted for the pairing of Syamim Yahya and Nor Azam Azih in midfield with Alves spearheading the attack for Pahang.
It was the visitors who continues their fine start to the 2017 season when Joseph got to the ball ahead of G. Puaneswaran on the left hand side and unleashed a swerving shot from outside the box. Before Fazli Paat knew it, the ball had already flashed past him and into the bottom corner of the net in the 21st minute of the first half.
Pahang could have extended their lead 15 minutes had it not been for the heroics of Fazli. Sumareh beat two players by cutting in from the left hand before squaring to Alves in the centre of the penalty box. To their dismay, Fazli managed to get his hand to push it out for a corner kick.
Melaka were struggling to get into the game and Amri cuts a lonely figure up front as the half passes on. Khairu Azrin and Jeon had very little time on the ball with Syamim and Nor Azam controlling the middle of the park.
Pahang did get their second goal before half time and it was nothing less than their performance deserved. Matthew Davies got up to produce a pinpoint cross for Alves to head home past Fazli. It was the Brazilian's fifth goal of the league campaign.
It only took Dollah's side 12 minutes into the second half to get their third of the match and made the match a non-contest from that point onwards. Sumareh latched on to a superb Alves cross-field pass in the 57th minute before calmly slotting past Fazli to make it 0-3 to Pahang.
To their credit, Williams' team did perform better at 0-3 down. With the pressure off, Melaka players started to combine better after the introduction Aguero. Amri had a chance to pull one back but his shot was well saved by Wan Azraie. Then Khuzaimi Piee found himself with space inside the box as a deflected shot fell onto his path but the left footed player couldn't keep his shot down.
It wasn't until the final minute of normal time did Melaka get their goal but it was no more than a consolation for the home side. Amri's well floated cross was finished off by Khuzaimi to make it 1-3 but the result was undeniable.
Pahang continues to make great strides in the league and if they continue this form, they will surely be one of the frontrunners for the title this season.