BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Selangor held Kedah to a 1-1 draw at the Selayang Municipal Stadium in their Super League match on Wednesday. Both goals of the match only came 10 minutes from time, a brilliant freekick goal by Brazilian forward Sandro da Silva, and a very late penalty by Juliano Mineiro.
The homeside went into the match looking to find their third win in the league, and improve their standings in the table in the fourth place. Second-placed Kedah meanwhile needed a win in order to retake the top spot from Pahang, who one night earlier won their match against PKNS FC.
As expected, the Red Giants had to sideline Liberian forward Francis Forkey Doe, who got injured last Saturday in their league match against Kelantan. Young striker Adam Nor Azlin was not picked by head coach Maniam Pachaiappan to replace him however, and Juliano Mineiro, Victoras Astafei and Veenod Subramaniam led the attack for Selangor.
Kedah boss Tan Cheng Hoe fielded all his foreign players at the start of the match except for Sandro da Silva, and gave rare starts to Syafiq Ahmad, Asri Mardzuki and Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik. Baddrol Bakhtiar too was sidelined, while Ifwat Akmal was the man between the sticks for the Red Eagles.
Raimi Noor put Astafei through in the 10th minute and the Romanian slotted the ball into the net, but the referee disallowed the goal as Astafei had been offside.
A minute later Fitri Omar took a swerving freekick, and it whizzes over the cross bar.
But in general, in the first 20 minutes play was more concentrated in the Selangor half, with the homeside sitting in deep.
In the 24th minute Kedah midfielder Liridon Krasniqi nutmegged Ugo Ukah with his first touch, but his touch was too heavy and took the ball to close to goalkeeper Khairul Azhan Khalid who cleared it away.
The Red Giants defended well, but their problem was in cycling the ball up again. Kedah pressed them from their defenders, forcing the defenders to make mistakes, and when they tried to begin a counter-attack, their players were not able to threaten the Kedah defence.
Cheng Hoe's men meanwhile kept to their usual passing game, simply shifting the ball from midfielder to midfielder just outside the Selangor penalty area.
Just before halftime, Syafiq was shown the first booking of the match for a stomp on Veenod. The Selangor man dove in for a sliding tackle, and the youngster leapt up, ostensibly to avoid the tackle. But he went for Veenod's face with his studs on his way down, and was duly shown the yellow, which really should have been a red.
The first half ended 0-0.
At the start of the second, Cheng Hoe brought on Malaysia winger Syazwan Zainon for Fitri. The rain too started coming down again, further slowing down the tempo of the match.
In the 53rd minute Astafei curled in a teasing cross from the right, but Mineiro was a fraction of a second too late to connect with it.
Danish forward Ken Ilso Larsen tried a low shot in the 57th minute from inside the Selangor penalty area, but it went a little to wide.
Moments later, young forward Adam Nor Azlin was brought on for midfielder Halim Zainal by Maniam, while Cheng Hoe took off Amirul for Brazilian forward Sandro.
10 minutes from the end of regulation time, Veenod fouled Syazwan at the edge of the Selangor box, and the referee gave a freekick. Sandro stepped up to take it, and curled it past the wall. The ball hit the near post, and bounced behind the line to give Kedah the first goal of the match.
The Red Eagles seized on the momentum and pushed on for more attacks while Selangor finally abandoned their defensive approach to attack with intent, however for a while it looked like no more goals would be scored.
But deep in injury time, Syahmi Safari was fouled in the penalty box by Kedah midfielder Akram Mahinan, and the ref pointed straight to the spot. Ifwat dived the right way to keep Astafei's spot kick out, but Mineiro was quick enough to pounce on the rebound and score the equaliser. It was his third goal in the past two matches. The ref blew his whistle for the end of the match straight away after that.
With the draw, Kedah remained second behind Pahang, while Selangor moved back up to third.
Selangor : Azhan (GK), Razman (C), Ukah, Rizal (Nurshamil 84'), Syahmi, Saiful, Halim (Adam 58'), Raimi (Fittri 88'), Astafei, Mineiro, Veenod.
Kedah : Ifwat (GK), Asri, Anderson, Khairul (C), Rizal, Fitri (Syazwan 46'), Akram, Amirul (Sandro 59'), Liridon, Syafiq (Hanif 75'), Ilso.