Selangor PKNS 1-0 LionsXII: Listless Lions fall to first defeat of season
A stunner from Nazrin Syamsul 13 minutes from time condemned V Sundramoorthy’s tired-looking side to their first loss of the 2013 Malaysian Super League season.
|By Kenneth Tan
The LionsXII fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat to Selangor PKNS in a top-against-bottom clash in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) 2013 on Tuesday night, which was played in front of a near-empty Shah Alam Stadium.
It was a listless performance from V. Sundramoorthy's side, who were perhaps affected by the fatigue from playing their third game in six days, as a Nazrin Syamsul goal in the 77th minute won it for the home side.
There were two changes made to the starting eleven for the visitors from the triumph against Selangor FA three days ago – pacy wingers Gabriel Quak and Safirul Sulaiman came in to provide more threat from the flanks, with the former making his first start of the season.
Meanwhile, counterpart Haju Abdul Rahman named an all-local line-up after the late exclusion of Helmi Loussief, with Patrick ‘Ronaldinho’ Wleh already ruled out due to suspension.
On paper, it looked like Sundram’s boys would cruise to an easy victory but full credit has to be given to the PKNS side, who produced a performance that belied their league position.
Captain Helmi Remeli was assured at the back, while Norhakim Hassan provided good runs upfront with Fauzan Dzulkifli and Azrin Khazali in support.
Azrin earned a couple of freekicks early on - the first was curled over by Fauzan on 19 minutes before he stung Izwan Mahbud’s palms with the second 12 minutes later.
The 25-year-old troubled the LionsXII custodian with another snapshot from distance in between that, while Helmi’s freekick inside the box after Izwan’s infringement was deflected wide.
The LionsXII only carved out a solitary opening after 38 minutes, with Fazrul Nawaz dragging a shot just wide after a good one-two with Shahril Ishak.
They did finish the half well, with Gabriel Quak flicking just wide of the post after a superb run that carved open the PKNS defence before Shahril directed his header off-target from Quak’s left-wing cross.
The Singaporeans picked up where they left off after the break – a training-ground move saw Shahril follow up on his own freekick to head Baihakki Khaizan’s flick-on, but PKNS goalkeeper Remezey Che Ros did well to palm the ball away.
However, they failed to maintain the momentum as the tide soon turned in the home’s side favour as the Malaysians worked relentlessly down the flanks to carve out openings.
One such instance saw Baihakki having to produce two successive blocks to deny Fauzan, but PKNS were looking more threatening as the minutes went by.
It was Nazrin Syamsul who proved to be the hero off the bench, as he struck the match-winner 13 minutes after coming on for Zamri Morshidi.
A half-cleared cross fell to the substitute 25 yards out from goal and the 22-year-old lashed home a stunning left-footed scorcher that left Izwan grasping at thin air.
The Lions XII tried to salvage something from the contest, but they simply couldn't find a way past the PKNS house defence.
Syafiq Zainal and Nazrul Nazari were introduced and Safuwan and Baihakki were both pushed up to support the attack in the dying minutes, but all they could muster was a freekick by Safuwan which was well blocked by the wall.
Frustration crept into the visitors' game, and it was Fazrul who bit the bullet in the final minute of injury time with a horrific and late high challenge on Azrin. That left the 27-year-old prostate on the ground, and the stiker with a deserved red card.
The LionsXII drop to third in the table with this defeat, and will next take on Terengganu FA this Saturday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
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