BY I.F. WONG Follow on Twitter
Terengganu’s revival under Mike Mulvey gathered momentum when his side overpowered Zainal Abidin Hassan’s Selangor with goals from their imports Issey Nakajima-Farran and Juan Jose Morales while the Red Giants’ solitary answer was by R. Gopinathan.
After resting several regular against Tampines Rovers on Tuesday, Zainal brought back his big guns with Khairul Azhan, Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Razman Roslan, Raimi Md Nor and Azrif Nasrulhaq coming back into the side.
As for a well-rested Terengganu, Mulvey welcomed back Nakajima-Farran and Gustavo Lopes back from injury to bolster the Turtles' attack.
Selangor started brighter with early openings for Patrick Wleh and especially Mauro Olivi who, in the fourth minute, beat Turtles' keeper Sharbinee Allawee with the goal at his mercy but saw his effort miss the near post at an angle.
Terengganu responded from a corner a couple of minutes later through a Gustavo Lopes header that was cleared off the line by Nazmi Faiz.
Lopes again was at the thick of the action just short of the half hour when his lob found Amirul Syahmi who headed just wide with Khairul Azhan well beaten.
The game ebbed and flowed with both teams trading efforts on goal in which both goalkeepers were in fine form to keep the score goalless.
Just before the half-time whistle, Nakajima-Farran picked the ball up at Selangor’s left flank, cut across and released an superb left-footed curling shot from 20 yards that ended in the right hand corner of Khairul Azhan’s goal. 1-0 and the halftime whistle followed.
It was the sixth time in succession the Red Giants have gone behind in a game.
The scores were leveled almost immediately after the restart. R. Gopinathan spotted Sharbinee slightly off his line and hit a speculative effort from 40 yards. The Terengganu shot stopper got a fist to it, but it was weak and the ball nestled in the net.
By now the game had opened up with large amounts of space at both ends, but neither side was able to exploit due to poor final balls.
Sensing Selangor’s left side as a weak link, the Turtle’s concentrated most of their attacks there. In the 68th minute, Joseph Kalang Tie, in for Ashari Shamsudin, delivered a perfect cross from the right which Nakajima-Farran connected but his header flashed wide.
Four minutes later, Selangor livewire Gopinathan sped past his marker on the left and hit a stinging shot that thundered off the upright.
But Selangor’s left defence, with Raimi Md Nor caught off position time and time again, was always going to be punished eventually. Ten minutes before the end, Nakajima-Farran, the game’s outstanding player, escaped the hapless Raimi and was faced with Khairul Azhan. The keeper did well to block the Canadian’s effort but the rebound found substitute Juan Jose Morales to make it 2-1.
Nakajima-Farran added gloss to the scoreline with a diving header off a Kalang Tie cross minutes later.
Mike Mulvey deserves plaudits for his substitution that changed the game for his team and they were well-deserved victors.
For Zainal and Selangor, it’s now three defeats on the bounce and it’s back to the drawing board.
Terengganu line-up: Sharbinee Allawee, Vincent Bikana, Yong Kuong Yong, Gustavo Lopes, Issey Nakajima-Farran (Affize Faisal 89th), Hasmizan Kamarodin, Zubir Azmi, Nordin Alias, Amirul Syahmi (Juan Morales 73rd), Ashari Samsudin (Joseph Kalang Tie 57th), Shahrin Sapien.
Selangor line-up: Khairul Azhan, Raimi Md Nor, Azrif Nasrulhaq, Shahrom Kalam, Razman Roslan, Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Hafiz Kamal (Adam Nor Azlin 86th), Andik Vermansah (S. Veenod 45th), Mauro Olivi (Hadi Yahya 89th), Patrick Wleh.