Matthew Davies fires Pahang to Malaysia Cup QF victory over Perak
2014 champions Pahang took a significant step towards the Malaysia Cup semifinals after a first-half goal blitz helped them overcome Perak 3-1 in the first leg of their quarterfinal on Saturday night.
All the goals came before half-time, thanks to strikes from Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria, Afif Amiruddin and Matthew Davies.
The Elephants had been late bloomers in this competition, only registering their first win in their fifth game of the 2017 edition against PKNP FC.
But in front of a packed Darul Makmur Stadium, they set the tone for a resounding home victory after Wan Zaharulnizam converted Davies' through pass in the 36th minute.
Perak barely had time to recover as Pahang extended their lead a minute later through Afif. He was quickest to react in a crowded penalty area to dispatch home for a 2-0 advantage.
The visitors' were caught napping again in the 40th minute, as Davies had all the time in the world to find the net at the second time of asking to put Pahang in cruise control.
The hosts went into the break holding such a big lead for only the second time this season after a 6-0 thrashing of PKNP.
Perak were still all over the place after the break, and were almost punished again in the 53rd minute.
But Hafizul Hakim, who was Malaysia's saviour against Hong Kong in the Asian Cup qualifiers with an injury time penalty save, produced another wonder stop to deny Mohamadou Sumareh, before Matheus Alves saw his effort blocked.
Gilmar Jose then gave Perak a lifeline when he pulled back a crucial goal midway through the second half to give the visitors some belief.
Pahang, however, held on comfortably until the final whistle and will head to the Ipoh Stadium on Sept. 23 confident of moving through to the last four.
Should they progress, Pahang could potentially face Johor Darul Ta'zim in an intriguing semifinal clash.
The Southern Tigers dismantled Melaka United 4-1 away from home in Friday's games, as defending champions Kedah won 3-2 away to Selangor.
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.