LionsXII 2-1 Terengganu FA: Second half fightback sinks Turtles
The home side trailed in the first half, but a stirring comeback saw them overcome the visitors to record a second successive home win in the Malaysian Super League.
|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Kenneth Tan
Four days after suffering their first loss of the season against Selangor PKNS, the LionsXII displayed superb recovery skills at the Jalan Besar Stadium as they came from a goal down to clinch a crucial 2-1 win over Terengganu FA on Saturday evening.
Sundram’s boys looked to be still recovering from the defeat in the first 10 minutes of this affair, with the visitors starting off the better side as the industrious Ismail Faruqi lined up just behind the towering Jean-Emmanuel Effa Owona.
It was Owona who had the first chance of the game on four minutes, flicking his header over the bar from Ismail’s inswinging corner.
Safirul Sulaiman then had a curling effort smothered by Terengganu goalkeeper Wan Muhd Azraie on 11 minutes, before Shahfiq Ghani and Irwan Shah both had efforts from range deflected wide.
Shahfiq went close with a freekick before Safuwan Baharudin prodded just wide from the former’s delivery but for all those chances, it was the visitors who stunned the Lions.
A chipped ball into the box from Vincent Bikana did not seem to pose much threat, but Owona stretched his neck muscles perfectly to produce a superb header that landed into the far corner of the goal beyond the stranded Izwan Mahbud.
That goal slightly deflated the Lions, as E. Elavarasan’s side threatened to extend their advantage.
Ashari Shamsudin volleyed over on 38 minutes before G Puaneswaran produced a superb 25-yard volley that beat the rooted Izwan but shaved the outside of the post.
Sundram made two changes at half time, introducing Gabriel Quak and Syafiq Zainal for Faritz Hameed and Hafiz Sujad as he went on the offensive.
And the Lions XII were truly a transformed side – Safirul and Isa fired ambitious efforts over before Syafiq similarly scuffed over from distance.
Terengganu were being pinned back inside their own half, with captain Shahril Ishak leading by example as he drew a number of fouls with his penetrative runs.
It was no surprise when the LionsXII levelled matters on 65 minutes.
A superb freekick by Shahfiq found Safuwan, who reacted quickest to prod home from three yards after his initial attempt was blocked.
Buoyed by the goal, the LionsXII went for the jugular and earned a number of corners where Shahfiq’s incisive delivery enabled his side to batter the Turtles’ defence aerially.
One corner saw Safuwan nodding just wide before another had Baihakki Khaizan beating Azraie with a thumping header that clipped the bar before going over.
In between that, the visitors could have levelled matters through an Owona freekick, which was superbly tipped over by Izwan.
But the LionsXII was not to be denied the comeback.
A brilliant floated cross from the right by Shahfiq picked out Syafiq, who bravely rose above the towering Bikana to nod past a rooted Azraie.
Sundram’s boys duly played out the final 15 minutes without much incident, except for a slight scare which saw Ashari dragging his shot just wide of Izwan’s right-hand post, as they held on to the win.
The LionsXII will travel away to face T-Team in their next MSL game.
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