Selangor suffered their first MSL home defeat in almost two years after losing 1-0 to Johor Darul Ta'zim
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Who would have thought that a match between a Malaysian team with another Malaysian outfit would eclipse one that would be played against recent Europa League champions just a few days later, but that was what happened when MSL leaders Selangor played third-placed Johor Darul Takzim at the Shah Alam Stadium earlier, two days before they took on Spain's Sevilla FC. Selangor who went into the match five points clear of second-placed Pahang were looking to increase the gap, whereas Johor surely wanted to chase after the home side and overtake Pahang who were playing Terengganu at home at the same time.
Selangor head coach Mehmet Durakovic made very minimal changes to their solid first eleven, with Shahrom Kalam returning to the fold after a brief injury, and Stilianos Pantelidis who replaced him in the defence against Sime Darby last week, pushed up back into midfield.
The visitors fielded four former Selangor players; Amri Yahyah, Asraruddin Putra, Safiq Rahim, and even Amirul Hadi Zainal who has rarely seen action this season. Perhaps JDT head coach Bojan Hodak was banking on their knowledge of their former teammates. However, another former Red Giant, Mahali Jasulli was benched.
The significance of the match was displayed as early as the fourth minute when Shakir Shaari was booked for a reckless challenge. Three minutes later, it was Daudsu Alias turn.
In the 11th minute a misunderstanding between Shahrom and Pantelidis gifted the ball to Amri at the edge of the box, but the veteran striker opted for a snap shot, which was easily gathered by Selangor keeper Farizal Marlias.
At the 15th minute mark it was Shahrom's turn to get a booking, for a foul on JDT's Jorge Pereyra Díaz. Surely he must have had Diaz' brace against LionsXII on Tuesday on his mind, when going in for the challenge.
The first dangerous challenge came from JDT in the 21st minute, when Marcos Antonios headed a long pass towards Amirulhadi. Amirulhadi attempted a volley, but it went a fraction over the bar, and Selangor was safe for a while.
...until two minutes later when Amri was through on goal from an angle, with only Farizal to beat. This time, Farizal did not need any luck and closed the angle quickly to smother the attempt.
Pantelidis too was booked in the 26th minute for a foul, again on Diaz.
The visitors had most of the possession, with the Red Giants mostly pinned in their own half and resorting to making rather hefty challenges.
Two minutes before halftime, Andik slipped past the JDT defence, but he decided to go for a shot from outside the box which went nowhere the goal mouth.
Just before halftime, the match went into a frenzy on both ends of the pitch. A cross by Daudsu from the right was blocked by Shahrom, but he failed to get a clean touch on the ball and deflected it towards the bar, very nearly giving away the lead to the visitors.
From the same situation, Selangor hit on the break through Andik, who again attempted a long-range shot. The attempt was palmed away by JDT keeper Izham Tarmizi, Paulo Rangel tried to finish it, then S Veenod, but both Veenod and Rangel had been adjudged to be in an offside position.
Four minutes into the second half, Diaz and forward Luciano Figueroa combined well to threaten Selangor's goal. Figueroa's low shot looked destined to be going in the bottom left corner, but Farizal stretched his fingers long enough to keep it out.
Selangor responded in kind just a minute later, when winger S Kunalan, who had been quiet throughout the match, broke free down the left and tried a grounder-curler. His attempt only brushed the far post, much to the chagrin of the home team's bench.
In the sixtyfirst minute, both teams made changes, with Selangor bringing in the ineffective Thamil Arasu for their midfielder Nazmi Faiz, whereas JDT brought in Mahali for Amirulhadi.
Nazmi had a go at the goal just four minutss later, but his snap shot was weak and was safely gathered by Izham.
However the visitors finally found the opener in the 71st minute, when Diaz fed the ball to Figueroa in the box, and he overpowered Shahrom to slot the ball past Farizal. The goal was the first goal that Selangor conceded in five games.
Two minutes later Pantelidis had a chance for an instant reply, when a freekick was not cleared well by the JDT defence. He tried for a curler, but it did not go in.
Desperate, Durakovic used up all of their remaining substitutions by throwing in Afiq Azmi and Abdul Hadi Yahya for Veenod and skipper Bunyamin Omar.
Meanwhile JDT took off Amri for Nurul Azwan Roya, and Diaz for Hariss Harun in an effort to defend against Selangor's attacks .
Two minutes from the end of regulation time, Pantelidis nodded the ball into Rangel's path in the visitors' box, but Rangel was a fraction too slow and it was Izham's time to shine.
Selangor's first MSL defeat at home since May 2012 meant that Selangor's gap at the top was slashed from five to just two, whereas JDT are now second, after Pahang lost their match 4-1.