JDT left it late but title win draws near

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Johor Southern Tigers
A late penalty conversion from Gonzalo Cabrera gave Johor Darul Ta'zim a vital 1-2 win over Pahang to give them a massive 11 points lead at the top.

JDT are potentially four matches away from retaining the Super League and thus making it a historic fifth successive title in a row. With only seven matches remaining, the Southern Tigers now can aim to wrap up the title with three matches to spare.

Perak in second place can only gain a maximum of 21 points from their own remaining seven matches, which means that JDT only need to secure 12 more points to seal the 2018 Super League title.

Raul Longhi threw on a surprise at the start of the bench by giving Syamer Kutty Abba his first ever start for the club since his move from Penang, despite having both Nazmi Faiz and Ignacio 'Natxo' Insa available on the bench.

Meanwhile Dollah Salleh had to make do with the absences of several key players including the preferred central midfield duo of Nor Azam Azih and Safuwan Baharudin. In their stead came R. Dinesh and Salomon Raj with Wan Zaharulnizam also given a starting berth.

In a less than fluid first half, chances were few and far in between but JDT managed to take the lead in the 33rd minute when Fernando Marquez nodded in Safawi Rasid's free kick from the left hand side to put the visitors 0-1 ahead.

From another free kick closer to goal, Gonzalo Cabrera's effort was parried by Helmi Eliza and Marquez just couldn't connect properly after Fernando Elizari was quick to get to the rebound.

The second half saw a big drop-off in terms of performance from JDT and Pahang took full advantage to gain more meaningful possession in the game. The biggest turnaround in the match came with the introduction of Faisal Halim and the youngster's pace was a big headache for JDT's defence.

Farizal Marlias came to the rescue of JDT in the 81st minute when he managed to block Faisal's shot, after the latter had dribbled his way past a static Aidil Zafuan. But the experienced custodian could do little four minutes later when Pahang found their equaliser. 

A quick counter attack saw substitutite Saiful Nizam being put through on the left hand side and his first time cross found Issey Nakajima-Farran. The Canadian international has had a torrid match but made up for it with a deft control to set himself up for a cool finish beyond Farizal to make it 1-1.

Yet, that wasn't the final tale in the story of the match. As the clock struck 90 minutes, Elizari produced an outstanding through ball for substitute Hazwan Bakri who was clattered by Helmi and the referee wasted no time in pointing to the penalty spot.

Cabrera dispatched off the spot kick with consummate ease to send the JDT bench into raptures. The final whistle came shortly after and the scene of celebrations at the away bench produced the clearest indication that the JDT squad truly believe that they have now more or less secured the title.

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