Written by: Shawn Lim
The LionsXII stretched their unbeaten record at the Jalan Besar Stadium to 10 matches tonight when they came from behind to record a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Perak FA.
Safuwan Baharudin netted the winner early in the second half to secure the Singapore side’s fifth win of the season, after Hafiz Sujad scored his third goal of the season to level matters on the stroke of half-time.
It was Perak though who broke the deadlock through striker Namkung Woong after just 12 minutes. The South Korean planted a firm header past a stranded Izwan Mahbud, after getting away from Madhu Mohana to meet Tuah Iskandar’s cross.
But Fandi Ahmad’s men refused to let their heads drop after conceding the early goal, and almost equalised just a couple of minutes later when Madhu floated a lovely cross for Safuwan whose header went just over the crossbar.
The LionsXII had another chance to equalise once more in the 30th minute after Khairul Amri got onto the end of Nazrul Nazari’s cross, but failed to direct his header into the net while under pressure.
The hosts’ pressure paid off eventually, as they equalised a minute into first-half injury time.
A measured ball from Amri sent Faris Ramli scurrying down the left flank, before his attempted cross was deflected onto Hafiz’s path by Thiago Junior, and the LionsXII left-back swept home the ball gleefully to make it 1-1.
The LionsXII came out firing on all cylinders after the break and could have taken the lead, but Amri’s audacious 30-yard piledriver whizzled past the left post five minutes after the restart.
Three minutes later though, the LionsXII took the lead through a well worked set-piece. An inswinging free-kick from Shahdan Sulaiman found Safuwan at the back post, and he rose above Junior to power home his header.
The LionsXII started pouring forward in search of a third goal to kill off the game, and came close in the 71st minute when Nazrul’s effort went narrowly wide after he dazzled his way into the box.
Izwan Mahbud was required to pull off two superb saves six minutes later as Horace James and Hisyamudin Shaari tried to force an equaliser for Perak.
Amri then won the ball in midfield and went on a solo run, but his resulting shot was a tame effort that hardly troubled Perak goalkeeper Zamir Selamat.
Hafiz then ensured that the LionsXII came away with three points when he cleared Chad Souza’s header off the line from a corner in the 87th minute.
LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Madhu Mohana, Gabriel Quak (Christopher Van Huizen, 72’), Hafiz Sujad, Nazrul Nazari, Izzdin Shafiq, Shahdan Sulaiman (Firdaus Kasman, 80’), Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri, Safuwan Baharudin (Khairul Nizam, 86’), Shakir Hamzah