Johor Darul Ta'zim II 0 LionsXII 2: Nizam and Nazrul secure semi-final berth
The LionsXII made light work of a tricky trip to Pasir Gudang on Wednesday night, with Nizam and Nazrul netting in each half to secure a 0-2 win and passage to the last four.
Coach Fandi Ahmad made two changes from the lineup which had capitulated to Selangor FA on Saturday night - bringing in Nizam and Syafiq for Gabriel Quak and Raihan Rahman.
It was Nizam who started brightly and was at the heart of a couple of opportunities in the opening 15 minutes.
First he won a corner which led to Madhu Mohana lashing over, before forcing JDT II keeper Afiff Aizad Azwan to push wide his header from Syafiq’s cross.
It was inevitable that the 23-year-old was involved in the opening goal on 19 minutes – fouled by Izuan Jarudin just outside the box, he connected well with Khairul Amri’s resulting freekick and flicked home a superb diving header past the hapless Afiff.
Faris Ramli should have doubled the visitors’ lead eight minutes later, but his header from Zulfahmi Arifin’s left-wing cross was tipped onto the bar by Afiff.
JDT II tried to level matters before half time, but Shahril Ishak’s close-range shot was well blocked by Madhu Mohana, while Nicolas Delmonte’s header from Leandro Velazquez’s freekick cleared the crossbar by inches.
The hosts carried on where they left off after the restart, putting the LionsXII defence on the back foot on a number of occasions.
First it was Shahril who failed to beat former teammate Izwan Mahbud in a one-on-one opportunity, before Shafiq Shaharudin forced the latter into a save at his near post.
From the resulting corner, Delmonte connected with Faizol Hussein’s delivery but his header came back off the post.
The loose ball then fell to Shafiq whose close-range shot looked to have come off Hafiz Sujad’s left arm, but appeals for a penalty were waved away by the referee.
With JDT II failing to make opportunities count, the pendulum soon swung the way of the LionsXII as they duly found a second six minutes after the hour mark.
After a JDT II freekick was cleared, Faris launched a breakaway move from inside his own half before setting up Nazrul Nazari, who sprinted all the way from his right-back position to clip a neat left-footed finish past the onrushing Afiff.
That rounded off the scoring for the night with Fandi opting to give captain Isa Halim a run-out in the last 20 minutes.
Izzdin Shafiq was unlucky not to add a third late on with his grass-cutter parried wide by the JDT II custodian, but it mattered little in the end as his side saw out the victory to set up a two-legged semi-final with Terengganu FA.
The first leg is scheduled for May 9 at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium, while the second leg will be played on May 16 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The LionsXII will also take much confidence from a fourth successive clean sheet in this competition as they return to league action this Saturday with a home clash against Sarawak FA.