LionsXII 4 KL SPA Putrajaya 0: Emphatic win send hosts into last eight
Madhu Mohana and Khairul Amri scored inside the first 30 minutes to put the Singaporeans in the driving seat, before Gabriel Quak effectively sealed the contest 13 minutes into the second half.
Amri then found his range again six minutes before the end, ensuring the home fans got their money’s worth.
Coach Fandi Ahmad stayed true to his pre-match game plan of attacking right from the get-go as the LIonsXII created their first goalscoring opportunity after just five minutes.
Quak’s inswinging cross found Christopher Van Huizen, who was making his first competitive start for the team, but he was unable to place his shot on target.
Right-back Madhu then had an opening at the edge of the box but his shot was well-blocked by a SPA Putrajaya defender.
The 24-year-old was not to be denied for long though as he duly found the net in the 17th minute – side-footing powerfully after Quak’s corner found him at the back post.
Things was to get even better for the LionsXII 10 minutes later as his throw-in from the right byline found Amri, who turned SPA Putrajaya captain Aslam Najumuden before firing a speculative shot from a tight angle that looped over a hapless Mahathir Mohammad in goal.
Sahil Suhaimi should have made it three just after the half-hour mark when he found himself in the clear and on the end of Van Huizen’s cross, but his shot was well blocked by Mahathir from point-blank range.
The vistitors tried to pull one back before half time, but Alyy Imran Samarkhan and Ijezie Michael Chukwubunna were unable to trouble Izwan Mahbud with their long-range attempts.
Shah Alias Norbit’s men picked up where they left off after the break as Norhafizzuan Jailani drew a Afiq Yunos foul just outside the box, but Noor Azizi Azman’s freekick failed to clear the wall.
Instead, it was the LionsXII who pulled three goals ahead just before the hour mark as Firdaus set up Quak, who cut inside KL SPA left-back Hishamuddin Othman before curling a stupendous effort over Mahathir.
Fandi then opted to bring on fresh legs in the form of Faris Ramli, Faris Azienuddin and Sufian Anuar, but it was one of the starters who sealed the deal six minutes from time.
Izzdin’s freekick picked out Amri at the back post and the 30-year-old fired his first-time shot in between the legs of Mahathir to round off the scoring for the night.
Next up for the LionsXII will be a reunion with former stalwarts Baihakki Khaizan and Shahril Ishak (JDT II) in a two-legged quarter-final, with a first-ever FA Cup triumph within reach.
Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo