Two second-half goals by Shahril Ishak and Sufian Anuar enable LionsXII to progress to the quarter-finals against a dogged Betaria FCA 5000 strong crowd witnessed the LionsXII battle to a 2-0 victory against a dogged Betaria FC team at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The game began as expected with the Lions dominating possession but they were unable to find the killer pass in the final third. Betaria FC resorted to tough tackling and physical intimidation to ensure that the hosts did not settle into their rhythm. The LionsXII were restricted to free kicks from range and corners but failed to trouble the visiting keeper.
With the game plan not working, coach V. Sundramoorthy made a tactical swap taking off midfielder Firdaus Kasman for forward Khairul Nizam to use his height in attack on 38 minutes. The half ended with both sides not having any clear cut chances.
The second-half started on the same note with the Lions looking to find an early goal.The breakthrough finally came in the 54th minute when Sufian Anuar ran along the edge of the box and laid the ball off to Isa Halim who found captain Shahril Ishak. Shahril turned his defender and found a yard to shoot past the despairing keeper who only could get a hand to it.
The goal seemed to calm the nerves of LionsXII and from then they were in firm control. In the 63rd minute, Shakir Hamzah had a brilliant chance to extend the lead from a cross from Shaiful Esah but failed to connect. In the 75th minute, Khairul went close when he stole the ball from the feet of captain M Ravinthiran only to curl his effort narrowly over the bar.
The contest was finally settled in the 84th minute with a great team goal. A great passing movement ended with Shahdan Sulaiman's back heel finding Sufian and he slipped the ball past the diving keeper.
In the 90th minute, Sufian had a chance to extend the lead, when Shaiful's cross found him unmarked at the far post, but his finish hit the post and Khairul wasn't able to connect to the rebound.
The game ended on that note and the LionsXII would look to build on their five game winning streak when they take on Sarawak in the Malaysia Super League next weekend.