Red Giants slipped to second after shocking loss to the Gladiators
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
League leaders Selangor met relegation-threatened ATM earlier, which meant both team had something resting on the game.
Selangor had to play without their target man Paulo Rangel who was sent off during their mid-week match against Terengganu. In his place was Afiq Azmi. Selangor head coach Mehmet Durakovic, perhaps seeing the benefit of playing an attacking game in their 4-1 win against Terengganu despite playing with only 10 men, kept youngster Nazmi Faiz in the starting XI.
Despite the stakes both teams had in the match, it took until the 15th minute for the first dangerous chance to be made. The home team forward Abdul Hadi Yahya was released by Nazmi, but he was still marked closely by the ATM defenders, and could only manage a weak shot that was safely gathered by ATM goalkeeper Syed Adney.
But against the run of play, ATM won a penalty in the 25th minute, when Fabrice Noel was fouled. Selangor players especially goalkeeper Farizal Marlias had to be restrained from the referee, claiming that the foul was committed outside of the box. Juan Manuel Arestogui converted the chance, and made it 1-0 to the visitors.
Buoyed by the lead, ATM took control by the match, utilising Noel who was too fast down the right for the Selangor defenders to handle.
Two minutes from halftime, S Kunalan sent in a curling cross that Andik Vermansyah tried to stab in. To the bewilderment of home fans, the chance ended on the back of Afiq, inadvertently blocking it.
In the 57th minute, Park Yong Ho almost made it 2-0 to ATM through aheader from a freekick, but Farizal got a hand to it to tip it over the bar.
However they doubled their lead nonetheless in the 63rd minute, when Bruno Martelotto pounced on a defensive mistake.
Durakovic then threw in Steve Pantelidis and Shukor Jusoh for Kunalan and Veenod. Earlier, Afiq was taken off for Hazwan Bakri.
Despite the desperate changes made, Selangor looked sorely lacking in the final third. Rangel's presence was very sorely felt.
The match finished 2-0, and with second-placed JDT winning their match against Terengganu, the Southern Tigers are now the new leaders of MSL, and Selangor second, with only one point separating them and three matches to go in the league.