Jalan Besar Stadium played host to an eight-goal thriller as the LionsXII opened their Malaysian Super League (MSL) season with a bang against PDRM.
The 2013 MSL champions picked up a superb 5-3 win against newly-promoted side PDRM FA in front of 5,288 fans on Saturday night.
Goals from Gabriel Quak, Faris Ramli, Izzdin Shafiq, Hafiz Sujad and Sahil Suhaimi saw them go 5-0 up after 67 minutes.
Although PDRM forward Dramane Traore set up a nervy finish with his hattrick, the home side were able to come away with three points.
Izzdin was the only new LionsXII signing to start the match, with Fandi opting for a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Afiq Yunos was also deemed fit enough to earn a spot in the starting eleven despite being doubtful before the game.
The hosts started well in the first 10 minutes with Faris and Izzdin both testing PDRM keeper Saiful Sudar from distance.
Traore had a chance of his own at the other end, racing past Afiq before seeing his close-range shot denied by Izwan’s legs.
The LionsXII gradually grew in confidence and eventually broke the deadlock midway through the first half.
Firdaus Kasman, deputising for the suspended Zulfahmi Arifin, played an inch-perfect ball over the top for Quak who took one touch to get past Saiful before slamming it high into the roof of the net.
PDRM attempted to muster a quick response but Muslim Ahmad’s header from a corner was not powerful enough to trouble Izwan.
The home side began to comfortably stroke passes around midfield and managed to grab another goal just before half time.
A lightning quick counter-attacking move led to Amri finding space to cut onto his left foot inside the box, his stinging shot proving too hot for Saiful to handle as he parried it into the path of Faris who simply could not miss from three yards out.
With a two-goal cushion, the LionsXII sensed blood, going three up inside three minutes of the restart.
While a series of quick passes broke down on the way into the box, Saiful’s poor clearance found its way to Izzdin at the edge of the box.
The former Home United midfielder instinctively produced a cheeky chip over the custodian, which PDRM left back Fadhil Hashim could not clear despite his best efforts.
Three goals turned to four in the 56th minute, as a quick interchange of passes on the counter-attack saw Izzdin releasing Amri down the left.
The forward spotted Hafiz’s late overlapping run into the box, playing a perfect slide-rule pass that the full back accepted with thanks.
They weren’t quite done yet though as debutant Sahil Suhaimi scored just two minutes after being brought on for Gabriel Quak, curling home a superb freekick after being brought down by PDRM captain Muslim Ahmad.
PDRM came roaring back though, with Traore netting three times inside the final 22 minutes.
The first was a penalty after Nazrul was adjudged to have nudged him inside the box, the second a conversion from Ali Ashfaq's right-wing cross, while the third saw him leaping highest to nod home yet another cross from the oppsite flank.
Despite this, the LionsXII hung on to pick up a morale-boosting victory to kickstart the new season.
Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo