Johor Darul Takzim 2-2 LionsXII: Norshahrul denies victory
The LionsXII dominated the first half but dropped points to Johor Darul Takzim who jumped into the second period with guns ablaze
V. Sundramoorthy’s men took the lead twice in the first-half with goals from Hariss Harun and Baihakki Khaizan. Johor’s equalisers came from Simone Del Nero and Norshahrul.
The causeway derby started with the LionsXII on the back-foot right at the kick-off. Simone Del Nero intercepted a pass in the centre circle to catch the visitors off guard and caused a bit of a scare.
The LionsXII were without several key players due to their National Service commitments but welcomed back Hariss Harun who was in red-hot form.
In the 4th minute all the hard chasing paid off. Hafiz’s cross was deflected towards Shahril Ishak who then laid off the ball for Hariss. The midfielder had acres of space to slam a volley into the back of the net.
The LionsXII continued to close down Johor Darul Takzim, not allowing them to string together passes in the middle of the park.
Six minutes later, Fandi’s men fought on grabbed an equaliser after Nurul Azwan made an excellent run down the left to cross to Simore Del Nero. The Italian midfielder met the cross with a well-timed diving header to equalise and bring the crestfallen crowd back to life.
The visitors pressed on for a second goal and much like the first, Hariss almost slotted home his shot from the edge of the box in the 32nd minute but had it blocked by Muslim Ahmad.
LionsXII finally got the well-deserved lead after Baihakki Khaizan met Shahril Ishak’s free kick with a diving header into the bottom left corner, and entered the break 2-1 in front.
In the second-half, the Southern Tigers pressed on hard with superb runs from Nurul Azwan who was a nuisance throughout. LionsXII were pushed back but defended well to stop Fandi’s imports, Guiza and Del Nero.
But it was Norshahrul who came to Johor’s rescue to score the second equaliser. The Malaysian international got the better of Hariss and almost the entire LionsXII backline to drill his shot from outside of the penalty box to the bottom corner.
The visitors began to show their nerves as Johor charged forward looking for their third goal which ultimately never came.
Sundram’s Lions held on for a precious point to maintain their charge up the Malaysian Super League table.
The LionsXII next travel to take on Felda United on March 2.
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