Talking points from PKNS' win over Perak

Safee Sali, PKNS FC
It was a hot night at Shah Alam Stadium as both Rajagopal and Durakovic made right and wrong decisions, here are the 5 major talking points.

The scenes at the final whistle was a contrasting one from both ends of the pitch, the victor of the match looking crestfallen while the loser of the match looked in a more jubilant mood. Perak sense that with the final kick of the match, they have wrested control of the FA Cup quarterfinal encounter with a vital away goal.

That is the name of the game is modern football where the away goals rule dictates advantage for the away side should they manage to find the back of the net away from home. With the score at 2-1 to PKNS FC heading into the second leg in two weeks time, Mehmet Durakovic's boys are fairly confident that they can finish the job back in the comforts of Perak Stadium.

A tempestuous first leg that looked like both teams were going all hammer and tongs with total disregard of the second leg, tempers were frayed right from the kick off. Clashes in the midfield in particular saw several breaks in play as the match officials looked to calm things down. 

A truly engaging match that kept fans at the edge of their seat throughout the 90 minutes, here are the five major talking points

Leandro dos Santos, Perak

Rising temperature on the pitch

Not from the sense of the actual heat but it was nothing less than a full-blooded encounter between the two teams who have already played each other once in the Super League this season. Leandro dos Santos had a running battle with Jonathan Acosta and that propagated to the rest of the team. 

Things got even more hotter when Perak felt that PKNS should have returned the ball to them after Shahrul Saad appeared to have kicked the ball out into touch to allow Faris Ramli to receive treatment. The fact that Faris got up rather quickly and scored straight from passage of play after that throw in, only serve to enrage the away side.

Even second half substitute Ahmad Khairil Anuar 'Beto' was on a short fuse and reacted strongly after a tackle from behind by Mahali Jasuli. Perhaps the match officials could have handled things better by showing an early yellow card and setting the tone for the match, but in allowing the match to flow only served to encourage the players.

Daniel the perfect foil at the base of the midfield

It wasn't an easy road for Daniel Ting when he signed for PKNS before the start of the season. K. Rajagopal was caught in two minds as to where the best position is for Daniel but recent matches have perhaps shown that the defensive midfield position is one for the former Johor Darul Ta'zim II player.

A left footer who's incredibly strong and robust, Daniel's presence at the heart of the midfield has allowed both Acosta and Romel Morales to flourish in their more advance roles from midfield. Time and again, Daniel put in decisive challenges and interceptions in midfield that disrupted Perak's rhythm.

In the second half, Rajagopal decided to change things around and brought on Khyril Muhymeen for P. Gunalan and had Daniel shifted to the left back role, looking to find the second goal to kill off the tie. But that came at the expense of conceding the midfield battle to the away team.

Safee Sali, PKNS FC

Bold attacking move from King Raja

At 1-0 up and the clock counting down in the second half, many coaches even someone like Jose Mourinho would have opted to button down and throw in more defenders to secure the win. However the opposite came out from Rajagopal as he showed that he remains one of the most keen tacticians working in the country.

A left back and a central midfielder was taken off and replaced by a striker and a wide forward, is just not your typical tactical decision commonly seen in Malaysian football. It was meant to exert influence in counter attacks as Perak pushed and pushed further forward in search of the equaliser. 

That came true in the 88th minute when the ball broke for a counter with Mahali on the right hand side and it was a 2v1 situation in favour of the home side. Hafizul Hakim had to rushed off his line in trying to intercept but his failed attempt meant an easy goal for Safee Sali to score and vindicating Raja's brave substitution choice.

Working in isolation was difficult for Gilmar

The big Brazilian looked bereft of support for big chunks of the match and in isolation, found it hard to break through the pairing of Azmizi Azmi and Rodney Akwensivie. Balls were pumped up long to Gilmar and in the situations where he managed to keep hold of the ball, support failed to arrive in time.

Another big factor was that Wander Luis had to drop back to pick up the ball and influence play, as Leandro and Nasir Basharuddin were struggling to gain control of the midfield. The former Kelantan player did a commendable job and perhaps was Perak's best player on the night, but still played too far away from Gilmar.

Even when Gilmar finally found himself with a presentable chance inside PKNS' penalty box, his goal-bound shot was well blocked by the impressive Akwensivie. The latter is slowly emerging as one of the finds of the season.

Ahmad Khairil Anuar, Perak

Width that only came in the second half

Durakovic started with Nor Hakim Hassan on the left and Kenny Pallraj on the right in his usual 4-4-1-1 formation but one that proved less than fruitful than when it was used in the 3-0 home win against Selangor. Nor Hakim was a peripheral figure all night but Kenny perhaps showed his limitations in a wider role.

Time and again, Perak worked the ball well to the right hand side but Kenny's deliveries were to be less than desirable. A combative midfielder by trade, Kenny just did not look comfortable hugging the touchline.

Yet it was all rectified in the second half when Beto and Nazrin Nawi replaced the starting duo. It was then that Perak started to look more fluent and threatening in the attacking third. Beto in particular had an outstanding cameo on the right hand side and gave Gunalan a torrid time until the moment the latter was taken off.