Five-star Kelantan rout Da Nang to go top

Malaysian treble champions Kelantan moved top of AFC Cup Group G on Tuesday after cruising to a dominant 5-0 win over Vietnam's SHB Da Nang.

Kelantan vs SHB Da Nang: Khairul Fahmi
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

A brilliant first-half display from the Red Warriors at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium saw them claim a three-goal lead at the break courtesy of strikes from Dickson Nwakaeme, Indra Putra Mahayuddin and Faiz Subri.

They continued their dominance after the break but were extremely wasteful in front of goal, although they did manage to add two more through Dimitri Petratos and Badhri Radzi.

But despite the convincing nature of their victory, they could easily have found themselves a goal down in the opening minute after Da Nang captain Gaston Merlo broke the offside trap and raced through, only to fire straight at Khairul Fahmi.

And just three minutes later, the Argentine was made to rue his miss as the hosts took the lead through Nwakaeme, who picked up the ball on the edge of the area and curled a lovely strike past Nguyen Thanh Binh into the far corner.

Two minutes later, Kelantan doubled their lead with a lovely team goal; Nwakaeme receiving possession inside the box before laying the ball to Petratos. Although the young Australian could have fired away, he was unselfish and showed great awareness to slip a pass through a defender's leg and into the path of the waiting Indra Putra, who was left with a simple finish.

Stunned at going two down so early on in the game, Da Nang nearly mustered a reply in the 15th minute when Vietnam international Phan Thanh Hung's neat pass released Tran Anh Khoa down the left, but Fahmi was alert and raced off his line to clear the danger.

Six minutes later, they had another good chance when Merlo's flick-on header found Ha Minh Tuan unmarked inside the area, but with his back to goal -and Fahmi off his line - the striker could only send his lob over the bar.

By now, Da Nang were showing good resolve following their awful start but seven minutes before the half-hour mark, the Red Warriors went further ahead when Faiz ran straight at the opposition defence before passing to Nwakaeme, who sent the ball back into his team-mate's path with an audacious first-time flick. Racing onto the pass, the ex-T-Team star made no mistake in slotting home his side's third.

Kelantan were beginning to threaten to score every time they broke forward and could well have taken a bigger lead into the break. First, Sabin-Cosmin Goia headed clear beneath his own bar to keep out Faiz's piledriver, before Thanh Binh denied Nwakaeme a second with a fine save at full stretch, after the Nigerian had created space to unleash a shot with a lovely turn on the edge of the box.

However, they were no stopping the Malaysian Super League giants from making it 4-0 in the 59th minute after Faiz went on a blistering run down the left before drilling a cross into the six-yard box, leaving Petratos with the simplest of finishes.

Ten minutes later, Kelantan were awarded a penalty after Nwakaeme had been caught by Thanh Binh's trailing leg just as we was about to pull the trigger, but Shakir Shaari was unable to convert as he screwed his spot-kick wide having sent the Da Nang keeper the wrong way.

But after missing further clear-cut chances, Bojan Hodak's charges finally got their fifth five minutes from time when Thanh Binh raced off his line to intercept a pass but could only divert it to Badhri, who proceeded to send a lovely 35-yard lob into the back of the unguarded net.

The three points allowed Kelantan to overtake their opponents at the top of the group, although Da Nang are still in a good position to finish inside the top two after winning both their opening games.

Kelantan: Khairul Fahmi, Nik Shahrul Azim, Lek Kcira, Obinna Nwaneri, Daudsu Jamaluddin, Shakir Shaari, Badhri Radzi, Indra Putra Mahayuddin (Norfarhan Muhammad 71'), Dimitri Petratos, Faiz Subri (Zamri Ramli 65'), Dickson Nwakaeme (Zairo Anuar Zalani 83').

SHB Da Nang: Nguyen Thanh Binh, Vo Hoang Quang, Cao Cuong (Tran Hai Lam 31'), Sabin-Cosmin Goia, Nguyen Ngoc Nguyen, Giang Tran Quach Tan, Nguyen Canh Lam, Phan Thanh Hung (Nguyen Minh Puong 18'), Tran Anh Khoa, Gaston Merlo, Ha Minh Tuan (Danny Mrwanda 33')



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