Johor Darul Ta'zim opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the Malaysia Super League table after an early Safawi Rasid strike helped them edge Terengganu FC 1-0 at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Terengganu on Friday.
Terengganu had started the game second in the standings with 10 points from six matches, but it was defending champions JDT who dominated the early minutes as their attackers put the Turtles defenders under pressure from the get-go.
Terengganu were fortunate enough to not concede as early as three minutes in when JDT striker Diogo Luis Santo robbed the ball off defender Muhammad Faudzi but failed to hit the target despite beating Terengganu goalkeeper Shamirza Yusoff.
However, fortune did not favour Terengganu two minutes later when Safawi, in his first start since the league's resumption, capitalised on another defensive error to give Johor the lead. Terengganu backline should have easily dealt with Afiq Fazail's hopeful ball from the midfield, but Argzim Redzovic botched the backpass to his goalkeeper letting Safawi roll the ball into the goal.
Recent clashes between the two sides have been tight affairs with both their meetings in last season's Super League ending in stalemates -- first was a 2-2 draw at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium and the other a 3-3 draw in the return fixture at JDT's old home ground of Tan Sri Dato' Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium.
Their latest clash was a game of fine margins as well, but the Southern Tigers did manage to keep their opponents at bay this time around as Safawi's strike proved to be the difference between the two sides on the night.
Meanwhile, Perak FA took a 1-0 win over league newcomers UiTM FC at the Stadium Perak.
Malaysia international forward Shahrel Fikri gave the Bos Gaurus the victory with a looping header in the fourth minute taking their tally to 11 points from seven matches -- only behind trailblazers Johor who now have 16 points after recording their sixth win from seven games.
In the other match of the night, Selangor FA were held to a 1-1 draw by Melaka United at the Stadium Shah Alam in Selangor. Nigerian forward Uche Agba was on the scoresheet for Melaka second week running as he fired in the opener in the 39th minute only for Brazilian attacker Sandro da Silva to equalise for hosts Selangor the very next minute.