LionsXII 1-0 Selangor: Sundram’s boys maintain winning start
A solitary Fazrul Nawaz header proved enough to see off the challenge of the Red Giants and send the home side joint-top of the Malaysian Super League table
|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Kenneth Tan
After a less-than-satisfactory start to their Malaysian Super League (MSL) 2012 campaign where they only collected one point from two games, the LionsXII have started their 2013 season with a bang – by gathering maximum points so far.
Following their 1-0 victory over ATM FA in their season opener three days ago, Sundram’s boys overcame the challenge of Selangor FA with a similar scoreline at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday evening.
Fazrul Nawaz’s first-half header proved to be the eventual winner in this contest, which was delayed by 15 minutes due to a heavy downpour before the game.
Despite being dominated by the visitors during the opening exchanges, the first opening of the game fell to the LionsXII.
A superb ball over the top by Isa Halim on nine minutes set captain Shahril Ishak free, and his cut-back for Fazrul Nawaz saw the striker fire a tame effort straight at Selangor goalkeeper Norazlan Razali.
Instead, it was Izwan Mahbud who was the first to be troubled among the two custodians, as he tipped over a 35-yard freekick from Amri Yahyah four minutes later.
The LionsXII then started to settle into the game and impose themselves, which led to them scoring on 24 minutes via a set-piece.
A superb counter-attacking move saw Norazlan push an Irwan Shah shot wide and from the resulting corner, Baihakki Khaizan flicked Hafiz Sujad’s superb delivery into the path of Fazrul Nawaz, who nodded firmly beyond the reach of Norazlan inside the six-yard box.
Selangor attempted to hit back but found stumbling blocks in Faritz Hameed and Izwan – the former making a superb block from Francis Doe’s close-range volley, while the latter pushed over a Raimi Nor freekick.
Holding the slim one-goal advantage until half time, Sundram showed no intention to sit back as he brought on Safirul Sulaiman for Nazrul Nazari in an attempt to inject more bite into his side’s attack.
And they could have gone two up on 63 minutes when Irwan was released by Hafiz’s through pass, but the 24-year-old’s lack of composure saw him shoot straight at Norazlan.
With less than half an hour to go, Selangor coach Irfan Bakti hauled off the out-of-sorts Amri Yahyah and Shukur Jusoh for energetic attackers Ramzul Zahini and K Gurusamy.
However they huffed and puffed though, they still could not bring the LionsXII house down.
Bunyamin Omar fired wide from outside the box on 66 minutes, while Doe similarly thumped off-target after cutting in from the left 12 minutes later, but the home side saw out the final 10 minutes rather comfortably to seal the win.
With this win, the LionsXII have six points from two games and now sit on top of the MSL table with Pahang FA.
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