Johor Darul Ta’zim’s victory in vain as SLNA stay barely alive

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Johor Darul Ta’zim were eliminated from the AFC Cup on Tuesday despite claiming a 3-2 Group H win over Song Lam Nghe An at the Larkin Stadium.

Things were initially looking on the up for the hosts as they took the lead six minutes after the half-hour mark; Natxo Insa receiving possession from S. Kunanlan and playing a nonchalant flick to the edge of the box, where Safawi Rasid proceeded to send a left-footed drive past Tran Van Tien.

Just three minutes later, their lead was doubled when La’Vere Corbin-Ong’s left-wing cross was met by Syafiq Ahmad with a brilliant header that was perfectly guided into the far corner.

But, in the 41st minute, Nguyen Viet Nguyen pulled one back for SLNA with a low shot after pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box.

Right before halftime, the visitors then remarkably pulled level when Ho Tuan Tai did well to outjump opposition keeper Izham Tarmizi to head home from a corner.

However, JDT were awarded a penalty when Nguyen Sy Nam was penalised for handball inside the area, paving the way for Safiq Rahim to convert from the spot in the 67th minute to win it for the Malaysia Super League champions.

Still, it ultimately proved to be in vain as their inferior head-to-head record – having lost 2-0 in the earlier meeting this year – saw JDT finish third in the group behind Song Lam Nghe An, who remain in with a chance of reaching the knockout round as the best-placed runners-up.

Nonetheless, they will require Home United to lose to Ceres-Negros by five goals or more in orderto advance into the last four of the ASEAN Zone.

JOHOR DARUL TA’ZIM: Izham Tarmizi, S. Kunanlan, Aidil Zafuan, Fadhli Shas (Marcos Antonio 77’), La’Vere Corbin-Ong, Afiq Fazail (Gary Robbat 74’), Natxo Insa, Safiq Rahim, Safawi Rasid, Syafiq Ahmad (Darren Lok 72’), Ahmad Hazwan Bakri.

SONG LAM NGHE AN: Tran Van Tien, Nguyen Sy Nam, Pham The Nat, Pham Manh Hung, Vo Ngoc Duc, Dau Thanh Phong, Ho Sy Sam (Ho Khac Ngoc 78’), Ngo Xuan Toan, Ho Tuan Tai (Nguyen Phu Nguyen 85’), Cao Xuan Thang (Phan Van Duc 73’), Nguyen Viet Nguyen.