WAN Azraie Wan Teh saved an incredible four penalties as Pahang returned to the Super League after an absence of one year following a 3-2 sudden-death shootout win over Kedah in the promotion-relegation final at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca yesterday.
Veteran defender Jalaluddin Jaafar, 37, scored the winning kick but Pahang, who blew a 2-0 half-time lead as Kedah fought back to 2-2, owed their victory to Wan Azraie, who saved from Fazliata Taib, See Kok Luen, Syamim Alif and Khairul Helmi Johari.
Maycon Carvalho Inez, Azamuddin Akil and Shahrizan Salleh missed for Pahang but it did not matter as Kedah joined Sarawak, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur in being demoted to the Premier League.
In a tense final which featured three red cards in extra-time, Pahang went ahead as early as the seventh minute when Hafiz Kamal's free-kick flew into the top corner as Kedah goalkeeper Hadi Halim was easily beaten.
Kedah, without imports Vedran Gerc and Abdelfatah Safi, struggled to get going and conceded a penalty when Fauzie Nan hauled Saifulnizam Miswan down in the box before Boris Kochkin scored from the spot to make it 2-0 two minutes before the break.
Russian midfielder Kochkin had to leave the field injured three minutes after resumption and Kedah capitalised within two minutes when Khyril Muhymeen Zambri headed in Baddrol Bakhtiar's free-kick.
Baddrol bagged the equaliser in the 68th minute when his free-kick from 30 metres out took a bounce in front of Wan Azraie and crept into goal.
Kedah lost Khyril in the 99th minute for handball before Pahang's R. Gopinathan and Fauzi Roslan were dismissed in the 113th and 119th minutes, the latter rather unjustly for simulation.