Juliano Mineiro scores double as Selangor win at Kelantan in MSL
Juliano Minerio struck a brace for Selangor to condemn Kelantan to a 2-0 defeat in front of their own fans on Saturday and maintain his side's steady march in the Malaysia Super League.
The Red Giants came into the game at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium on the back of a 3-1 triumph against Felda United last week. They were up against a Kelantan side who had lost three games on the trot.
Selangor wasted no time in imposing themselves against their confidence-lacking opponents, and were rewarded with a fourth minute lead through Minerio.
The Brazilian-born Timor Leste playmaker had only recently returned to full fitness. He buried the ball on the second attempt after his initial shot had been blocked by national goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi.
The Red Giants were dealt a blow shortly after when Francis Forkey Doe was forced off injured, and on came Adam Nor Azlin.
The young striker almost made an impact 10 minutes later, but Khairul came to Kelantan's rescue by repelling his strike.
Selangor continued to dominate proceedings. Romanian winger Victor Astafei went close to doubling their lead with an effort just wide in the 37th minute.
Khairul kept Kelantan in the game just before the break with his biggest save of the night to keep out another Adam effort as Selangor ended the half on top. Hasmizan Kamarodin came on for Badhri Radzi in the second half, and saw a free kick sail just wide as the hosts tried to turn the tide.
But the Red Warriors were hit with a major sucker punch in the 63rd minute when Minerio rifled home his second of the night to put Selangor on course for all three points.
Muhammad Ghaddar came close to reducing the deficit in added time. But Khairul Azhan proved a stumbling block as Selangor closed out the match with a clean sheet, and a third league win in six games in 2017.
MSL leaders Kedah compounded the misery of Penang by breezing to a 3-1 win against the bottom club, with Liridon Krasniqi, Syafiq Ahmad and Fitri Omar scoring.
While the Canaries kept top spot with their fourth victory in six league games, Penang look likely relegation candidates after losing all six of their matches so far, conceding 14 goals and scoring only two.
Argentine forward Gabriel Guerra was the star man for Johor Darul Ta'zim against T-Team at Larkin Stadium with a hat trick, as the Southern Tigers got their season back on track with a 3-0 win.
Other matches saw Felda United and Perak play out to a 2-2 draw in an entertaining affair at Tun Abdul Razak Stadium, Pahang upstaged Melaka United 3-1 to stay second, and Sarawak won 3-2 at PKNS FC.
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.