The reigning league champions went down to their fifth defeat of the season as a solitary strike from Steve Pantelidis was enough to give the in-form hosts all three pointsAfter trouncing league leaders Pahang FA 4-1 earlier in the week, the LionsXII were brought back to earth as they were beaten 1-0 by Selangor FA at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday evening.
Selangor, who are yet to be beaten at home this season, were the better team throughout the game and were rather unfortunate to have only one goal to show for their efforts. The winning strike came from a corner kick midway through the first half, as Steve Pantelidis’s header was enough to give his side all three points.
Despite their dominance, it was a fairly even opening with both sides having an even number of chances.
As early as the first minute, Selangor threatened the LionsXII goal as S. Kunalan was released on the right. He cut in to his left to beat the defender, only for him to blaze his effort over the bar.
In the fifth minute, Paulo Rangel flicked a beautiful ball to set Thamil Arasu free, but Afiq Yunos’s last-ditch tackle prevented the Malaysia international from putting his shot away.
The LionsXII then had a couple of chances in front of goal as Safuwan Baharudin’s free-kick from 30 yards hit the side netting, while Selangor goalkeeper Farizal Marlias was equal to Faris Ramli’s left-footed curler a few minutes later.
But it was all Selangor after that as Andik Vermansyah beat Madhu Mohana for pace and his cross found Thamil Arasu, whose header was tame and landed safely in the arms of Izwan Mahbud.
Just after the midway point of the first half, the hosts finally broke the deadlock. Andik’s corner to the far post was met by Rangel’s header across the goal to an unmarked Pantelidis, who diverted the ball into the bottom corner. It was shocking defending from the LionsXII, who left both players completely unmarked.
Then on 31 minutes, Kunalan again went on a mazy run past two LionsXII players before the ball deflected off Madhu onto Rangel’s path, but the Brazilian’s first time side-footed effort went just wide of the near post.
Fandi rang in the changes in the second half, bringing in Zulfahmi Arifin on for Aqhari Abdullah, but it was Selangor who continued posing more of a goal threat as Rangel and Thamil had excellent chances to double their team’s lead.
Ten minutes after the break, Andik sent another peach of a cross to Rangel to the far post, but Izwan Mahbud pulled off a magnificent save to tip his header away. Less than a minute later, Thamil reached the end of Kunalan’s cross but his first-time side-footed shot from inside the six-yard area went well over the bar.
Andik was tormenting the LionsXII defense all evening and he earned a corner in the 80th minute, which he took. The Indonesian's cross reached Pantelidis, who forced Izwan into another diving save to keep them in the game.
But an equaliser never came as the Singapore outfit was barely able to muster any threat upfront, even as Safuwan progressively played higher up the pitch.
The LionsXII did well to keep the scoreline down, but their inability to break their opponents’ defense eventually cost them as they went down to a second defeat in three matches.