Johor DT continue winning run

Johor Darul Ta’zim reaffirmed their credentials in the AFC Cup when they beat Bengaluru 3-0 in a Group H match at the Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium on Wednesday.

Captain Mohammad Safiq bin Rahim, Safee Sali and Mohd Shakir Shaari were on target for Johor DT as the defending champions from Malaysia’s maintained their perfect record in the year’s competition.

The result sees the hosts top the group with 18 points after winning each of their six matches, while Bengaluru finish second on nine points – still good enough to join Johor in the last 16 of the tournament.

In the other game in Group H, Myanmar’s Ayeyawady beat Lao Toyota 3-2 to claim third on six points, while the side from Laos had to settle for last place on three points.

The visitors were arguably the better side in the opening 45 minutes, but were unable to find their way past a stubborn Johor defense.

The momentum clearly shifted after the break and Sali fired the first real warning shot from the hosts in the 54th minute, when his well-hit shot hit the woodwork.

Sixteen minutes later and the home side had their goal through Safiq, even though it had an element of fortitude to it. After his initial shot took a heavy deflection off defender John Johnson, the ball was directed goal-wards and left Bengaluru stopper Amrinder Singh with no chance of preventing the goal.

With the visitors pushing forward in an attempt to get an equaliser, the I-League champions left plenty of open space in the midfield and defense, and the second Johor DT goal came as a direct result of that.

Sali timed his run from deep to perfection to beat the offside trap and left Amrinder for dead to double their advantage in the 78th minute.

The result was then put beyond question when the Southern Tigers were awarded a spot kick in the first minute of added time, after defender Rino Anto toppled over Safee on the edge of the penalty area.

Shakir then sent Amrinder the wrong way and calmly rolled the penalty into the back of the net.

Johor will now face Kaya FC in the Round of 16 later this month.