Selangor unable to retake the lead against ATM despite having the lions' share of the possession, after conceding the equaliser
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
ATM took on Selangor earlier tonight at the Selayang Stadium, with both teams desperately needing a win to get in back in the title race, after having gone without a win for the past three matches. ATM were without their talismanic veteran striker Marlon James who had been injured, whereas Selangor benched Junior Aparecido in favour of winger Andik Vermansyah.
After almost a month of drought throughout the country, heavy rain started to fall in Selayang hours before kick off, but just as the players were marching out of the dressing room, the downpour stopped altogether.
Selangor had a dream start to the match, scoring just three minutes into the match. A freekick some 20 meters from the goalmouth found Paulo Rangel who was unmarked near the left post, and he whipped in a half volley that went into the net to bring his MSL tally to seven, making him the league's current topscorer.
In the 17th minute, what looked to be a handball infringement by a Selangor defender was denied by the ref. Zamzaidi Katiman. Half a minute later, Juan Manuel Arestogui attempted a sharp shot from the edge of the penalty box, which Selangor keeper Farizal Marlias expertly palmed away from the goalmouth and away from the awaiting Gladiators' skipper Hairuddin Omar.
Despite having the lead, the visitors failed to keep possession of the ball and to create more chances, which was made worse by their defence giving the ball and freekicks away in dangerous positions.
One such freekick almost lost them the lead in the 31st minute. Arestogui's kick from 20 meters out went just a few agonising inches over the bar.
He attempted again from the same distance six minutes later, this time from open play, to similar effect. This time, Farizal did not even bother trying to leap to get the ball.
In the 39th minute, Arestogui who was unmarked in the visitors' penalty box got onto the end of a beautiful cross from the left, but his header only found the bottom of the right post, to deny his team the equaliser.
However just as the additional time was being displayed, ATM finally found their equaliser. A through pass caught the Red Giants' defence napping, and Arestogui got his just rewards, scooping the ball over the onrushing Farizal from an angle to make it 1-1 just before halftime.
Seven minutes into the second half, Selangor, through who else but Rangel, were denied the lead not once, but twice in succession when his headers were kept away by a goal line block and ATM goalkeeper's Syed Adney save.
One minute later, Andik missed a chance to score his first goal in the league. He brilliantly dribbled past ATM defenders into the box, but his shot was rushed and it went over the bar.
Afiq Azmi who came in just moments earlier in the 72nd minute for Fitri Syazwan almost scored with his first touch, he tried chipping the ball over Adney, but Adney called his bluff and stood his ground. The ball went over the bar at the far post, but not by much.
Seven minutes from time, Afiq looked to hae been fould inside the box, but it was waved away by the ref.
No more goals were scored after that, which means that ATM and Selangor both had fallen away further from th.e title race