Selangor proved that Rangel's absence is sorely felt by them, after meekly losing to Kelantan in a booking-laden league match
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Kelantan took on second-placed Selangor earlier, with the nothing much to play for by the hosts, whereas the visitors needing a win in order to keep pace with league leaders JDT.
Kelantan started the match with Wan Zaharulnizam, Brendan Gan, Muhammad Shawky and Khairul Fahmi, whereas the Red Giants, without their Brazilian forward Paulo Rangel due to suspension, started with former Harimau Muda teammates Thamil Arasu and Nazmi Faiz in front. Interestingly, Kelantan were also without their head coach George Boateng, who had to be away to finish his coaching course.
The first 15 minutes went on without any significant chances being made by either team.
In the 20th minute, a ballooning freekick from Zairul Fitree almost caught goalkeeper Farizal Marlias, but his attempt hit the crossbar instead.
But a minute later, Kelantan opened the scoring. Prince Tagoe sent in a cross from the right, which was met by former Selangor player Forkey Doe with a glancing header that beat Farizal.
Despite trailing and needing to win the match to keep up their title challenges, Selangor displayed no urgency to score, constantly being pinned by the home side and passing the ball back to Farizal when this happened.
Only five minutes before the halftime whistle that Selangor picked up their pace, when Nazmi made an attempt from 25 meters out in the 43rd minute, but his attempt was palmed over the bar by Fahmi.
Moments before the whistle was blown, S Veenod made a similar try. Again, Fahmi was there to tip it over the bar.
Despite his assist, Tagoe was substituted off at the start of the second half for Izuan Rosli.
Zaharulnizam almost doubled Kelantan's lead when he shook off Shahrom Kalam to receive a long pass in the Selangor penalty box. But Shahrom recovered quickly, and Zaharul could only manage a wayward shot.
Selangor head coach Mehmet Durakovic then brought in two more attackers, Hazwan Bakri and Fitri Syazwan for Azmi Muslim and Evaldo Silva.
In the 59th minute, Fakri Saarani had to be taken off to be bandaged after a clash with Selangor's Steve Pantelidis, altough the referee had not given a second look to the incident. A blodied Fakri was then seen gesturing to Pantelidis, although no audio was heard but the gesture seemed to indicate that the Australian would get his comeuppance.
The match then took a turn for the harsh, with several fouls being made, resulting in yellow cards to Veenod, Zaharul and Zairul.
In the 67th minute, Shawky held the ball in the Selangor box before releasing the ball to Fakri. But Fakri's shot towards the bottom corner was kept out by Farizal's outstretched fingers.
Three minutes later, bizarrely it was Kelantan defender Farisham Ismail's turn to bleed and require treatment. Replay showed that Hazwan had slammed his hands into the faces of both Farisham and Brendan Gan while challenging for a freekick. The ref had missed this incident, too.
Hazwan almost made all that forgotten in the 77th minute when he tried from inside the Kelantan box. But his shot hit the crossbar, much to the disapppointment of the away fans.
10 minutes from the end of regulation time, Zaharul was released by a brilliant through ball by Fakri. He had only Farizal to beat, but the former national keeper dove the right way to keep the scoreline 1-0.
Zaharul would do that just two minutes later, when another pass found him who was unmarked near the far post. He stabbed the ball, and this time Farizal was a fraction too late. The match finished 2-0.
Surprisingly for Selangor, the title chase was far from over for them. After the match ended, news surfaced that JDT had also lost to ATM 2-1.