MSL Recap: Pahang relinquish top spot after LionsXII mauling

With four games remaining, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) claimed the top spot after Pahang lost at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Uncharacteristic defensive errors made by the Elephants saw them go down 4-2 to the LionsXII, who maintained their undefeated record at Jalan Besar.

The Malaysia Cup holders had a better start to the match, but it was the home side that took the lead first in the 17th minute through Faris Ramli, who fired past the onrushing Khairul Azhan Khalid after being set up by Nazrul Nazari.

13 minutes later, the LionsXII doubled their lead when Madhu Mohana nodded it home from a Zulfahmi Arifin corner.

Matias Conti halved the deficit with a header deflected off Faritz Hameed in the 44th minute, which seemingly fired his team up as Pahang dominated the opening exchanges right after the break in their quest for an equaliser.

However, against the run of play, the LionsXII restored their two-goal lead in the 60th minute when Faris’ shot took a cruel deflection off Razman Roslan, leaving the Pahang goalkeeper rooted to the spot as the ball crossed the line.

And they were not done for the night; Safuwan Baharudin lashed the ball into the back of the net with minutes remaining to make it 4-1 after he was found unmarked during a LionsXII corner.

R. Surendran pulled one goal back for Pahang just before the final whistle, but time ran out for his side to mount a comeback.

The defeat saw them surrender the top spot to JDT, who beat ATM 1-0 at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Stadium.

The Southern Tigers were largely ineffective throughout the match and had to thank Safee Sali for the hard-fought victory.

The Malaysia international, who came on for Jasazrin Jamaluddin in the second half, converted a low cross from S. Chanturu in the 70th minute, which was enough for his team to seal the win.

For 11th-placed ATM, the defeat was perhaps not too damaging to their Super League survival, as they remain four points behind Sarawak who lost 3-2 to PDRM.

Despite conceding a goal as early as in the 20th minute, the Crocs were 2-1 up thanks to Joseph Kalang Tie and Ryan Griffiths.

However, Dramane Traore and Afif Amiruddin both struck with minutes remaining in the match to give the Cops a priceless victory, which ensured their spot in the Super League next season.

As for the other relegation zone dwellers, Sime Darby, their winless run extended to 18 matches in a row after a 3-1 defeat to Selangor.

Goals from Rizal Fahmi Rosid, Guilherme de Paula and Hadi Yahya pushed the Red Giants up to third in the Malaysian Super League, replacing Perak who lost 2-0 to Felda United at the Ipoh Stadium.

Felda United captain Shukor Adan took advantage of goalkeeper Zamir Selamat’s fumble on the hour mark to give his side the lead before Perak’s Raffi Nagoorgani accidentally put the ball into his own net nine minutes later.

Lastly, Terengganu continued their renaissance with a 2-1 win in Kota Bharu.

Kelantan were ahead after only 17 seconds thanks to Ahmad Fakri Saarani, but the away side pegged back when Vincent Bikana equalised in the 25th minute via a Gustavo Lopez corner.

Set-pieces proved to be the Red Warriors’ downfall, as they conceded again in the 73rd minute from another corner kick, which was converted by Ashari Samsudin.

The win moved the Turtles up to fifth, level on points with Selangor, Felda and the LionsXII.