KUALA LUMPUR: A superb shot from the edge of the box by Fernando Forestieri made all the difference for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) as they wrecked Selangor’s dream of winning their first silverware in seven years in the Malaysia Cup final.
Both teams had been deadlocked at 1-1 after the first half but a strong second-half comeback by JDT at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil broke Selangor hearts.
Brazilian Herlison had put Selangor ahead from the spot but the Red Giants paid the price for loose defending moments later as JDT’s Brazilian Bergson da Silva made it all square in added time in the first half.
Then, as JDT attacked in waves and Selangor scrambled to clear their lines, Argentine Forestieri fired a splendid shot into the far corner of the net as the Giants’ defence stood rooted.
The match got nasty with several fouls after that but JDT held on to reclaim the Malaysia Cup trophy that they lost to Kuala Lumpur last year after winning it in 2019.
It also meant a clean sweep of titles for the Southern Tigers, who have already won the Charity Shield, the FA Cup and Super League titles. They are the first Malaysian club side to achieve the quadruple.
But it was Selangor who surprised JDT by going on the offensive from the start. Selangor, competing in their first Malaysia Cup final since they lost on penalties in 2016 to Kedah, had three good chances to get the opening goal in the first 15 minutes.
They continued with their hard pressing game and their persistence finally paid off when Herlison was tripped in the penalty box two minutes before the break.
The Brazilian did not waste the golden opportunity to score but it was shortlived joy. Minutes later, Da Silva managed to connect off an Arif Aiman cross to put JDT back in the fight.
It was his seventh goal in the Malaysia Cup campaign.
It was a more invigorated JDT side who managed to get their act right in the second half and Forestieri found the right corner of the net after Selangor goalkeeper Khairulazhan Khalid failed to clear the ball properly after saving from an earlier attack.
The World Cup in Qatar may be going on full swing but local football fans did not miss the opportunity to cheer on their own teams, especially in a competition with a long prestigious history like the Malaysia Cup.
An estimated 80,000 fans caught the action in the final match of the 101st edition of the Malaysia Cup.
It is the third Malaysia Cup title for JDT, who are handled by Hector Bidoglio, after previous wins in 2017 and 2019.
Selangor, managed by former national team coach Tan Cheng Hoe, are the most successful outfit in Malaysia Cup history having won it 33 times but their last title was in 2015.
Cheng Hoe conceded later that his side had lost to a more experienced side. He said his players should have scored more goals in the first half but had lost their shape after conceding the second goal.