JDT crack open KL City's defence to retain FA Cup
ISKANDAR PUTERI - Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) mounted a successful defence of the FA Cup they won last year by beating Kuala Lumpur (KL) City FC 2-0 in the final held for the first time at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium here tonight.
It is the Southern Tigers third FA Cup, after lifting it in 2016 and also last year, but this time around the team did it in front of a home crowd of 33,598 fans.
Midfielder Nathaniel Shio Hong Wan and Argentine striker Leandro Velazquez were the heroes of the match, slotting a goal apiece in the second half to lead their team to triumph at the 32nd edition of the prestigious tournament.
KL City’s defensive tactics managed to keep the Southern Tigers at bay for the entire first half, but they squandered a chance to go ahead in the 16th minute when Matko Zirdum sent the ball sailing right into the arms of JDT keeper Ahmad Syihan Hazmi Mohamed after a perfectly taken free kick by Paulo Josue placed the ball right at Matko’s feet.
KL City came close in the 36th minute, but striker T Saravanan's shot off a Romel Morales cross failed to find the back of JDT's net while the home team's blistering shot from outside the penalty box by Mohd Afiq Fazail was saved by keeper Kevin Ray Mendoza earlier in the 27th minute.
JDT's first goal finally came in the second half, when Hong Wan sent the ball across a distance of around 25 metres with a powerful right legged kick that ricocheted off the post and into the net.
The goal shook things up and forced KL City to abandon their defensive tactics, and allowed JDT to capitalise on the pressure they applied on the visitors, resulting in Valazquez stealing the ball from right under Mohamad Kamal Azizi Mohamad Zabri and Sebastian Avanzini's watch and slotting it past a hapless Mendoza to put JDT ahead 2-0 in the 74th minute, and secure the second domestic title of the season for his team after their Charity Shield victory in February.
JDT's victorious FA Cup campaign extends their undefeated run in all domestic competitions this season, which is also marked by a 17-match winning streak in the Super League, while KL City's defeat means that they have to wait for next year for the chance to lift the FA Cup for the very first time. - Bernama