Selangor defeat on-form Sime Darby at home to stay league leaders
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
After second and third-placed Johor and Pahang played out to draw on Friday night, MSL leaders must have been raring to go five points clear of the two, by despatching clubside Sime Darby FC at home earlier. Selangor last week notched a difficult away win at Pahang, to overtake the then-league leaders.
The home side were without defender Shahrom Kalam who was injured, which meant Australian defender who recently played more as a central midfielder was returned to his more familiar position as a centreback by head coach Mehmet Durakovic, whereas Shukor Jusoh were back in the first eleven.
Sime Darby were definitely not a pushover, especially after their comeback 3-2 win over Sarawak last week. They started with midfielder Dilshod Sharofetdinov, who were instrumental in the win, captain Fadzli Saari, and defender Fahrul Razi Kamaruddin.
Nothing of significance took place in the first 15 minutes, with Selangor playing their usual brand of possession football, and the visitors hitting back through quick counter attacks.
Selangor came close to finding the first goal through their hero last week, Andik Vermansyah who slipped through the defence to attempt a low shot across the goalmouth. It missed the far corner, but not by much.
In the 32st minute Selangor came close again, this time through Paulo Rangel who was teed off seleflessy by Andik in the box. He took too long and was crowded out by Sime Darby defenders.
Selangor slowly creeped higher up the field afterwards, and they were rewarded when in the 36th minute, Andik was fouled in the penalty box while chasing after a rebound. The refereee Azman Jamalluddin did not need a second look and awarded a penalty. Rangel calmly stepped up to convert it, giving him his first MSL goal in four games.
Three minutes into the second half, Sime Darby was presented with a chance to equalised when Selangor midfielder S. Veenod lost the ball in his half. A cross was sent in, but forward Mateo Roskam could not hit it squarely and the attempt went over the bar.
Four minutes later Azmi Muslim missed a chance to double Selangor's lead following a Rangel freekick that was fumbled by Sime Darby keeper Suffian Rahman. He rightly tried to place it in the lower far corner to avoid Suffian, but his attempt ended up on the wrong side bar.
By the hour mark, it was apparent that the visitors were running out of ideas to penetrate the watertight Selangor defence. This was not the same team who battled to a hard-fought 3-2 win over Sarawak last week.
Another chance was presented to winger S. Kunalan in the 70th minute after he was teed off by Andik in the visitors' box, but his shot was blocked by a defender.
A minute later Yosri Dermaraju tried a freekick from 25 meters out, it cleared the the wall but was easily caught by Selangor keeper Farizal Marlias.
The match finished 1-0 to the homeside, their sixth 1-0 win of the season.