The Singapore side let slip a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 but Fandi Ahmad's boys will feel hard done by a dubious penalty decision that altered the course of the game
Title-chasing Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) stunned the home side after coming from two goals down to win the tie on Tuesday night 3-2.
The match looked to be heading for a goalless first-half with both sides finding it hard to impress themselves on a wet pitch at Jalan Besar Stadium. The closest chance fell to Safee Sali whose effort from point blank range was straight at Izwan Mahbud who did brilliantly to deflect the shot wide.
It was eight minutes before the end of the first period of play before the first goal was scored and it was quickly followed by two more in the space of six minutes to completely change the complexion of the game.
First, Faris Ramli broke the deadlock with a well-taken goal on 37 minutes. The nippy winger pounced on a mistake by Subramani and found the back of the net from a tight angle to hand the LionsXII a lead against virtually the run of play.
Then Gabriel Quak found himself breaking free after another slip-up from the JDT defence, but a foul ended the winger's run.
Up stepped Zulfahmi Ariffin to take the free-kick from just outside the penalty box and the midfielder proved why he was one of the best set-piece takers on the team with a perfectly placed shot past the wall and out of the goalkeeper's reach.
With the home side racing 2-0 ahead and half-time closing in, JDT struck on a quick break to reduce the deficit.
Argentinian Jorge Diaz got the better of the LionsXII defence that was missing Baihakki Khaizan who was contractually omitted from the game, and poked a shot past Izwan to make it 2-1 before half-time.
JDT did not have to wait long to level the scorline upon the start of the second-half but the circumstances behind the goal later drew the ire of LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad.
The Singapore side were already reeling from a difficult penalty decision against Terengganu FA in the last match that resulted in a 2-1 defeat, but this time they had a clearer case to make.
Afiq Yunos' harmless backpass to Izwan inside the penalty box off his chest was vehemently claimed as a handball by the JDT attacking line and referee Nazmi Nasarudin pointed to the penalty spot in agreement.
Luciano Figueroa who had been a thorn in the home side's defence all night took the resulting spotkick but his effort was well-parried by the LionsXII custodian. Unfortunately, the rebound fell right into the path of the former Argentina international who had the easiest of tasks to tap in from close range.
While LionsXII went on the search for a winning goal, JDT made full use of the gaps in defence to hunt for a third goal themselves.
Diaz came the closest first as he was hustled off the ball from inside the six-yard box then Figueroa found the side-netting after a through ball to the far post.
But the lethal combination of the two Argentinians paid off still.
Fifteen minutes from time, Figueroa played his striker partner through on goal, and Diaz calmly raced into the penalty box and placed his shot to the bottom corner of the net.
LionsXII went on the hunt for a much-needed equaliser but with JDT sitting deep and the home side's forward line floundering, few chances were conjured.
The scoreline remained and LionsXII fell to their third consecutive defeat. They next take on ATM FA this coming Saturday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.