Matchday Six - Group H: Johor Darul Ta'zim 3-2 Song Lam Nghe An FC
Johor: A second-half penalty from Safiq Rahim earned Johor Darul Ta’zim a 3-2 win over Song Lam Nghe An on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough to stop them from being eliminated from the 2018 AFC Cup.
The Malaysian side, winners of the tournament in 2015, knew they needed to win by at least three goals to overturn the two-goal deficit in their head-to-head record with the Vietnamese side and at least finish second in Group H to give themselves a chance of going through as the best runners-up.
That looked like it was on the cards after a blistering opening to the match from the home side, dominating the exchanges before finally taking the lead after 36 minutes when Safawi Rasid blasted home from the edge of the area.
Their lead was doubled just minutes later when Syafiq Ahmad rose to head home La’vere Corbin-Ong’s cross as JDT looked headed for a comfortable victory.
But a loss in concentration in the final five minutes of the first half proved costly as first Nguyen Viet Nguyen and then Ho Tuan Tai scored to draw the visitors level at 2-2 heading into half time.
Raúl Longhi’s men were gifted a chance to regain the lead just after the hour mark when Nguyen Sy Nam blocked Safawi’s shot with his hand, with captain Safiq stepping up to the spot to put the home side back ahead.
While that was enough to win the match, it wasn’t enough to overtake Song Lam Nghe An in second spot in Group H, with the Vietnamese side now waiting on the results from Wednesday’s match between Ceres-Negros and Home United to find out if they will finish as the best runners-up and advance to the ASEAN Zonal Semi-finals.