* JDT top Group F with 3-0 win over Balestier Khalsa
* Kitchee FC finish second after 2-2 draw against East Bengal
* JDT will be at home in the Round of 16
Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) came alive in a 15 minute spell in the second half to destroy Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa FC in a Group F match of the AFC Cup.
The win made sue that JDT retained their place at the top of the group with 15 points after Hong Kong’s Kitchee FC were held to a surprise 2-2 draw by India’s East Bengal at the Mongkok Stadium.
With the big win at the Larkin Stadium, the Southern Tigers remained unbeaten at home this season. But more importantly, JDT will start their campaign in the Round of 16 at home.
JDT have gone great guns in the AFC Cup under former coach Bojan Hodak whose job is now handled by Mario Gomez – South China FC’s former Argentine coach.
“We did not play well in the first half but we did better after the break to get the goals for the big win. Topping the group is important for us because we will be at home in the Round of 16,” said Gomez.
JDT made vital substitutes in the second half – bringing in Nazrin Nawai, Safee Salee and Mahali Jasuli – and they turned the tide for the homesters.
Safee got his name into the score sheet when he shrugged off two markers and ran into space to connect a Nazrin freekick on 76 minutes, giving Balestier goalkeeper and skipper Zaiful Nizam Abdullah no chance at all.
Ten minutes later Safiq Rahim made it 2-0 for the homesters when he was on target from an assist by Mahali who worked his way up on the right before relaying the ball for the former to put the finishing touch and give the 10,000 home fans plenty to celebrate..
The hardworking Nazrin, who came in for S. Chanthuru also had a hand in JDT’s third goal when he earned a freekick. From the set-piece, Luciano Figueroa blasted a thunderous shot from outside the box and the ball took a deflection from the Balestier wall to hit the back of the net on 90 minutes.
In the meantime, Kitchee FC were 2-0 up by the 59th minute after a scoreless first half – off goals from Lam Kah Wai (52nd) and Xu Deshuai (59th).
However, East Bengal woke up late in the match to score through Soleye Ranti Martins (80th) and Cavin Peter Lobo (89th) to share the spoils at the Mongkok Stadium.
RESULTS GROUP F (May 12)
JDT (Mas) 3 Balestier Khalsa (Spore) 0
Kitchee FC (Hkg) 2 East Bengal FC (Ind) 2
PICTURES by www.asiana.my