KUALA LUMPUR — Brazilian striker, Diogo Luis Santo scored his first hat-trick of the season to aid defending champions, Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) keep their unbeaten record in the 2023 Super League by demolishing Kuala Lumpur City (KL City) FC, 6-1, last night.
From the onset, JDT launched continuous attacks in the game at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium, Iskandar Puteri, and the efforts were rewarded with two early goals within a minute each through Diogo and sensational winger, Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi.
Diogo scored the first goal of the match by pouncing on Leandro Velazquez’s attempt in the 12th minute before sensational winger Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi unleashed a powerful kick into the KL City goal to double the home team’s lead a minute later.
The Southern Tigers continued to roar when Diogo’s header hit the net in the 35th minute and he completed his hat-trick by neatly netting a La’vere Corbin Ong’s pass one minute before the end of the first half.
The visitors who started relatively well in the second half managed to take advantage of a chaotic situation in front of the JDT goal resulting in a corner kick with Croatian defender Marko Zitdum scoring his team’s consolation goal in the 54th minute.
However, veteran player, Safiq Rahim, proved that his touch is still lethal when he scored the fifth goal for Esteban Solari’s team in the 86th minute and it was Muhammad Akhyar’s turn to receive Arif Aiman’s pass to seal their big win over Bojan Hodak’s men in the 88th minute.
With 15 wins in a row, JDT are comfortably at the top of the league with 45 points while KL City fell one spot to the seventh position with 23 points.
JDT’s closest challenger, Selangor FC narrowly beat Kuching City FC 2-1 in a match held at Petaling Jaya City Council Stadium.
Import striker Ayron Del Valle Rodriguez converted a penalty kick in the 26th minute to open the score for the home side before a substitute scored Selangor’s second goal in the 55th minute while striker Amir Amri Salleh closed the gap for Kuching City late in the match.
Tan Cheng Hoe’s men collected 34 points to remain second while Kuching City’s 10th consecutive defeat sees them in 12th position with six points.
Meanwhile, a solitary goal by striker Engku Muhammad Nur Shakir Engku Yacob in the 16th minute was enough to ensure Terengganu FC collect three valuable points by defeating Kedah Darul Aman FC 1-0 at Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, Kuala Nerus.
Terengganu jumped two places to be in sixth position in the league after gaining 23 points and Kedah remained in fourth place with 28 points. — Bernama