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  • March 20, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore
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LionsXII 1-1 Selangor: Balaban freekick ensures points are shared

LionsXII 1-1 Selangor: Balaban freekick ensures points are shared

Zeng Liwei

In a lively encounter, a header by Sufian Anuar was cancelled out by a late Bosko Balaban freekick

In one of the MSL’s most highly anticipated match to date, the LionsXII and Selangor played to an entertaining 1-1 draw in front of 7500 fans, at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Selangor star striker Bosko Balaban ensured his team went home with at least one point with an equalizing freekick, after in-form LionsXII striker Sufian Anuar had drawn first blood on the hour mark in the match.

Selangor started the brighter of the two sides in the first-half, having the better opportunities, only to be denied by the LionsXII’s resolute backline of Hariss Harun and Sevki Sha’ban.

The first opportunity for Selangor came just three minutes into the game, but Balaban’s header was just off the mark after LionsXII keeper Hyrnulnizam failed to make a clean catch of the ball.

Hyrulnizam was the busier of the two custodians and he was called into action again eight minutes later, making a comfortable save from a long-range shot by Azidan Sarudin.

Playing a 4-5-1 formation with Sufian as the lone striker, the LionsXII took a cautious approach to the match and their first chance on goal came after only 12 minutes, but midfielder Shadan Sulaiman scuffed his shot just outside the box after being teed up nicely by Yasir Hanapi.

That would prove to be Yasir’s final contribution to the match as he was replaced 20 minutes later by Khairul Nizam.
 
As the half wore on, Selangor continued to control the game and on 26 minutes very nearly broke the deadlock after Fitri Shazwan’s header was cleared off the line heroically by Shakir Hamzah.

Shakir was again involved in the last bit of action in the half as former Aston Villa striker Bosko Balaban tried to win a freekick off Shakir’s tackle, only for the Selangor striker to be yellow carded for play-acting, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

As the team re-emerged for the second-half, the LionsXII clearly wanted to seize the initiative as creative midfielder Firdaus Kasman was brought on to replace defender Madhu Mohana.

However Selangor continued to keep control of the match, and on 52 minutes, Azidan’s header from a freekick went just over the bar, thanks to good pressure by keeper Hyrulnizam, whose brave attempt to thwart Azidan resulted in him lying unconscious for a good three minutes.

The deadlock was eventually broken on the hour mark, as in-form striker Sufian scored from a header thanks to a sweetly swung cross from the left flank by Safirul Sulaiman.

Sufian almost made it 2-0 to the LionsXII five minutes later, after he tried to capitalized on a mistimed header by Selangor defender P.Gunalan, but to no avail.

Selangor then went in search of the all-elusive equalizing goal and frustration appeared to get the better of them, as captain Amri Yahyah was yellow-carded for a silly foul on Irwan Shah on 79 minutes.

Eventually, the pressure from the Malaysians paid off, as Balaban equalized from a freekick on the edge of the box, putting the ball well beyond Hyrulnizam’s reach after a foul by LionsXII defender Sevki on R Surendren.

The Malaysians almost went home with all three points if not for the heroics of Hyrulnizam, whose excellent flying fingertip save in stoppage time from Balaban’s header ensured the LionsXII managed to hang on to one point after a tough match and moved up to second place in the MSL League table.

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