LionsXII 1 Selangor FA 1: Nizam wonder goal preserves unbeaten home record

Super-sub Khairul Nizam scored three minutes from time to rescue a 1-1 draw for the LionsXII against Selangor FA at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night. 

Afiq Azmi broke his 11-match goal drought to put the Red Giants up in the 59th minute, but it was Nizam who came up with a brilliant scissors kick to break the visitors’ hearts.

The LionsXII had a couple more chances to win it late on, but had to settle for a solitary point in the end.

It could have been a dream start for the hosts inside the first 45 seconds, but Khairul Amri just failed to get his head onto Faritz Hameed’s cross from the right.

Instead, the first real chance of the night fell to Selangor in the second minute, with Brazilian forward Guilherme de Paula wriggling his way into the box before seeing his tame shot collected by Izwan Mahbud.

The pendulum then swung back the LionsXII’s way as Shahdan Sulaiman lashed over from range, before Nazrul Nazari saw his snapshot from just outside the box tipped over by Selangor keeper Norazlan Razali.

After such a lively opening 15 minutes, the game turned scrappy midway through with the LionsXII players uncharacteristically misplacing a number of passes.

Safuwan Baharudin had a great chance right before the break as he rose well to meet Hafiz Sujad’s deep cross, but his resulting header shaved the right-hand post.

The same combination almost paid dividends eight minutes after the restart as Safuwan once again failed to put his header on target.

Amri then sent his header from Faritz’s cross straight into Norazlan’s arms before Selangor duly grabbed a shock lead a minute before the hour mark.

Bunyamin Umar lofted an inviting cross into the LionsXII six-yard box for Afiq, who capitalized on marker Madhu Mohana’s slip-up to nod past the Izwan's despairing dive.

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad reacted by throwing on Gabriel Quak and Zulfahmi Arifin for the ineffectual Faris Ramli and Shahdan, as they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents in the last half hour.

Zulfahmi curled a 30-yard freekick just wide, while Safuwan’s close-range shot was parried by Norazlan after Shakir Hamzah had flicked a long ball into his path.

Nizam's substitution looked like the last throw of the dice for Fandi in the 81st minute, but it proved to be an inspired substitution as he made the difference six minutes later.

Nazrul’s thumping 25-yard volley had crashed off the bar just seconds before, but Selangor failed to heed the warning sign as Nizam acrobatically diverted home Faritz’s searching cross for the equalizer.

That was enough for the LionsXII to extend their unbeaten run at home to 13 games in all competitions this year as they travel to Kuching to take on Sarawak FA in their penultimate game of the season next Wednesday.

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo