KANGAR: Perlis secured the 2005 Super League title – their first ever top-flight league title – with a workmanlike 1-0 victory over Penang in front of a capacity 20,000 crowd at the Utama Stadium here last night.
A 41st minute strike by former Penang player Manzoor Azwira Abdul Wahid was enough for the Northern Lions to secure the title with two matches to spare.
Perlis have now opened up an unassailable nine-point lead over closest challengers and last year's champions Pahang, who were held to a goalless draw by Public Bank yesterday.
It was also Perlis' second major trophy in as many seasons after ending an 83-year drought by bagging the Malaysia Cup last year.
Understandably, Perlis coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim paraded an attacking line-up – with Zambian strikers Phillimon Chepita and Zacharia Simukonda leading the way.
His Penang counterpart Norizan Bakar was forced to put out a defensive first 11 without injured influential skipper Jose Barreto and new acquisition Dudu from Nigeria.
After producing one of their best displays of the season when they brought down Pahang 2-1 here last week, the Northern Lions seemed listless in the first half.
Only sporadic chances created by Yusri Che Lah and Zacharia Simukonda threatened the Penang defence held together by veteran Chee Wan Hoe and Brazilian Mario Silva.
At the other end, defender Mat Saiful Mohamad almost gave Penang the lead against the run of play in the 17th minute when his deflected free-kick just grazed off the top of the Perlis crossbar.
But four minutes before halftime, Perlis struck.
After some neat work by Chepita and skipper Muhammad Kaironnisam Shahabuddin, midfielder Manzoor Azwira took possession at the edge of the Penang penalty box.
He weaved past two Penang defenders before coolly sliding the ball past Penang keeper Mohd Fazrul Rodzi for the opening goal.
Chepita had the ball in the Penang net in the 78th minute but his close range header was ruled offside. Simukonda then saw his penalty kick saved by Mohd Fazrul.
After losing all five of their third round league matches, Penang are deep in relegation trouble and desperately need positive results from their last two matches to survive the drop.
Perak, who had been looking at the drop at the start of the second round, continued their revival in the third round by securing their fifth straight win in the competition.
They thrashed Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) 5-1 at the MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya last night, with Liberian striker Frank Seator scoring a hat-trick.
MPPJ, too, are staring at relegation as they now lie at the bottom of the table with 21 points.