Kedah allowed champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) to go 11 points clear at the top of the Malaysia Super League table after being held to a 1-1 draw by Selangor on Saturday night.
As Malaysia Cup champions Kedah slipped up in Alor Setar, JDT secured a 3-1 victory over Sarawak in Johor Bahru.
Mohammed Ghaddar struck a brace for the Southern Tigers to put them within touching distance of a fourth consecutive MSL title.
Ghaddar’s 20th and 21st goals of the season set the Southern Tigers on their way at Larkin Stadium before Safawi Rasid confirmed the win.
Ulisses Morais’ men now need to win only three of their last six games to confirm another league title.
Further down the table, FIFA Puskas winner Faiz Subri breathed some life into his side’s MSL survival with a fifth-minute goal as Penang downed Melaka United 3-1 at Hang Jebat Stadium.
Philippines striker Mark Hartmann and S. Kumaahran got the other goals to give Zainal Abidin Hassan’s men only their second win of the season.
For Kedah, only a victory over Selangor would suffice if they wanted to put any pressure on high-flying JDT.
But the 2017 FA Cup winners were shocked in the 14th minute through a goal from S. Veenod, who was making a rare start in Selangor colours this season.
The Red Giants were forced into a change midway through the half when their Spanish forward Rufino Segovia came off injured, replaced by Fitri Shazwan.
Kedah began to assert themselves in the game as their Brazilian midfielder Sandro Da Silva saw a fierce effort dealt with Norazlan Razali in the Selangor goal.
But the hosts did not have to wait long to level matters. Their equaliser came through striker Ken Ilso, who powered home a header to make it 1-1 in the 30th minute.
Buoyed by the Dane’s 10th league strike of the campaign, Kedah began to up the ante at the Selangor goal.
Norazlan, who had played second fiddle to Khairul Azhan Khalid for much of the season, was justifying P .Maniam’s selection.
The stocky goalkeeper was kept busy with two saves in quick succession to deny Syazwan Zainon and Liridon Krasniqi.
His quick reflexes meant Selangor kept Kedah at bay heading into the break.
The hosts picked up where they left off in the first half, with Sandro having another crack at Norazlan’s goal with a rising effort.
Selangor hung on for dear life as Kedah intensified their pressure in the final 20 minutes, with Norazlan again called into action to beat away Rizal Ghazali’s strike.
Kedah: Farhan Abu Bakar (GK), Baddrol Bakhtiar, Liridon Krasniqi, Ken Ilso, Sandro Da Silva, Khairul Helmi Johari (C), Rizal Ghazali, Syazwan Tajudin, Syazwan Zainon, Hanif Mat Dzahir, Asri Mardzuki
Selangor: Norazlan Razali (GK), A. Namathevan, Abdul Halim Zainal, Saiful Ridzuwan Selamat, Francis Forkey Doe, Raimi Md Nor, Ugo Ukah (C), Rizal Fahmi, S. Veenod, Fairuz Abdul Aziz, Rufino Segovia (Fitri Shazwan 26′)
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.