BY OOI KIN FAI Follow onTwitter
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) was dealt a hammer blow in the bid to top Group F of the 2017 AFC Cup after a 3-2 defeat away to Global in a match played on Wednesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Three goals scored in a 8-minute period enabled Global to surge to the top of the group, two points ahead of JDT.
Benjamin Mora shifted his side around on the back of that 3-1 reverse suffered at the hands of Pahang in the FA Cup - bringing in Aidil Zafuan, Azamuddin Akil and Amirulhadi Zainal. Mora also decided to give Safiq Rahim a bit of a breather by having him start the game on the bench. His opposite number, Toshiaki Imai persevered with the same line-up that went down 4-0 in the reverse fixture in Johor Bahru three weeks ago.
Hazwan Bakri was the first to threaten when he was put through in the 5th and the 14th minute of the first half. His first effort hit the post while his second effort was let down by a heavy first touch. Having stayed in the match, Global took the match by storm in a 10-minutes spell.
In the 26th minute, Kemy Agustien's strike from range his the post but JDT failed to make an effective clearance and Global scored from the next passage of play. HikaruMinegishibeats Azrif on the right hand side before squaring for Dennis Villanueva to squeeze the ball past Izham Tarmizi.
Global doubled their lead just 6 minutes later when JDT's high defensive line was broken by Shu Sasaki who timed his run to perfection. The Japanese calmly slots in past Izham to give his side a 2-0 lead.
JDT' were once again caught on the break when in the 35th minute, Global went from defending a corner kick to earning them the third goal of the night. Darryl Roberts latched on to a long clearance with Nazmi Faiz trying to catch up to him. However the Trinidad and Tobago forward was too quick for Nazmi and subsequently laid on the perfect pass for Amani Aquinaldo to tap in.
The Southern Tigers could have pulled one back just before half time but Hazwan's header from Gabriel Guerra's corner kick was slightly too high over the bar. Global were putting the pressure every time Nazmi, Guerra and Gonzalo Cabrera were on the ball and their tactics worked to give them a handsome first half lead of the 2015 AFC Cup champions.
Mora had plenty to do at half time to cajole his players into action right from the start of the second half and to an extent, the Mexican did managed that. JDT pulled one back just three minutes into the second half, when a well-worked move culminated in Guerra driving an unstoppable shot in from outside the penalty box to make it 3-1.
The Argentine Guerra would also be the next to player to get a shot on target but unlike his first effort, his header in the 59th minute was magnificently saved by Patrick Deyto in Global's goal.
Searching for a way back into the game, Mora was forced to put on Safiqin the 64th minute. The switch saw Guerra being moved further forward with Safiq taking over the playmaking duties in the centre of the midfield.
JDT were controlling the game but it wasn't until the 84th minute that they scored their second on the night. Hazwan put Azrif through on the right hand side and the full back's cut back was perfectly placed for the on-rushing Guerra to turn in his second of the match.
But that was all Mora's boys could muster as Global closed down the match to earn their third win in the group stage. The 3-2 win over JDT, moved them to the top of the group with two matches remaining. It also takes finishing top of the group, out of JDT's own hands as they would have to rely on Global dropping points in order to overtake them.