BY RONNIE OH
BATU KAWAN: Russian Torpedo Viatcheslav Melnikov lived up to his reputation yesterday as he led Penang to a convincing 3-2 win over Kedah in a Super League match at the State Stadium here last night.
It was Kedah who drew first blood when Argentine playmaker Leonardo Veron struck in the 23rd minute but Melnikov, who had been a subdued figure in Penangs 2-1 defeat by Perlis last week, scored his first goal of the season in the 34th minute and Australian midfielder Boris Ovcin delivered his second of the season in the 39th minute.
Nordin Kamis then sealed the match with his goal in the 76th minute and a last-minute reply by substitute Rafdi Rashid at the stroke of full time failed to save Kedah from their second straight defeat. They lost to Public Bank 3-4 last week.
Both teams were eager to make amends but it was Penang who came out looking hungry.
Kedah were forced to concede three corners in a space of eight minutes and R. Suresh Kumar headed just wide in the first corner.
But Kedah coolly absorbed the pressure and then hit back.
The homesters gave away a freekick in the 23rd minute and Argentine Marco Manso sent in a well-measured floater to his compatriot. Veron nodded it past an outrushing Zuraimi Hassan.
Penang were not finished and in Melnikov and Ovcin they had a dangerous pair. Ovcin measured a cross to the Russian in the 34th minute. Melnikov coolly lifted the ball over his marker A. Victor with his left foot and then blasted the ball past goalkeeper Mohamed Al Hafiz.
Kedah found themselves trailing just five minutes later. After a fast break and a neat-one two between speedy M. Nagarajah and Ovcin, the Australian curled a grounder past the rooted Mohd Al Hafiz.
Kedah came charging back in the second half and, with Penang looking content to defend the slender lead, they practically camped inside the Panther's half.
They nearly equalised in the 59th minute when national striker Akmal Rizal broke free but with the entire Penang defence behind him and only Zuraimi to beat, he stroked his right footer wide.
Penang then came out of their defensive shell and it was 3-1.
The goalkeeper's clearance off a Chee Wan Hoe free-kick fell short and second half replacement Nordin, chested the ball down before volleying into a yawning goal from 20m.
Kedah pulled one back through Rafdi at the stroke of full time but it was little consolation.
Penang: Zuraimi Hassan, Mat Saiful Mohd (Zulhissyam Jamaludin), Abdul Aziz Ismail, Chee Wan Hoe, S. Nanthakumar, Chow Chee Weng, Hairulnizam Man (Mohd Saufi Ibrahim), R. Suresh Kumar, M. Nagaraja (Nordin Kamis), Boris Ovcin, Viatcheslav Melnikov.
Kedah: Mohd Al Hafiz, A. Victor, Gaston Stang, Shariman Che Omar, Mohd Fauzi Nan (Mohd Rafdi Rashid), Rezuan Mohd (Badrul Afzan), Ahmad Fauzi Shaari, Leonardo Veron (Amirul Nizam), Marco Manso, Akmal Rizal Rakhli, Hasmawi Hassan.