Espindola and El-Helwe show gets Panthers prowling again

PETALING JAYA: Penang’s new Brazilian striker Lucas Espindola has hit it off with Lebanese international Hilal El-Helwe.

So infectious was their samba and dabke (a folk dance) combo that the Panthers danced past Pahang 5-2 in their FA Cup quarter-final match on Saturday.

El-Helwe, 27, fired a brace while the 32-year-old Espindola scored one. The goals aside, the duo also stood out with their almost telepathic understanding as they combined with ease and finesse to tear the Elephants apart.

Espindola has vowed to continue their exciting show when Penang take on Melaka in the Super League at the Hang Jebat Stadium today.

“I find it easy to play with Hilal. He’s an intelligent player and you can see it in his movements and passing,’’ said Espindola.

“With him in such form, we can do wonders and get more wins for the team.’’

El-Helwe has scored five goals in the Super League and four in the FA Cup. Espindola, who joined the team early this month, has yet to open his account in the Super League.

Coach Zainal Abidin Hassan is thrilled to see El-Helwe and Espindola combining so well and he now hopes talismanic playmaker Endrick Dos Santos will soon form a terrific trio with the two.

“When Endrick came on against Pahang, he changed the game with his superb passing and expertise at set-pieces. Once he gels better with El-Helwe and Espindola, we can have quite a trio in attack,’’ he said.

Zainal said that Penang, bottom of the 12-team league with seven points from 12 games, have no excuse not to improve their position even though there is no relegation next year with the Super League being expanded to 18 teams.

‘’We must fight for a respectable spot and we intend to go all out to win the FA Cup.’’

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