Perak 2 LionsXII 2: Firdaus stunner earns away point

The LionsXII came away with a hard-won point in Ipoh on Saturday evening, after battling back from a goal down against Perak FA.

Khairul Amri opened the scoring for the visitors, but goals from Perak forwards Chad Souza and Namkung Woong set the stage for Firdaus Kasman's stunning equaliser.

Fandi Ahmad's men now have a full set of results three games into the season, with this draw coming after a win against PDRM and a loss to Kelantan.

The hosts started the better of the two sides at Perak Stadium in front of a near capacity crowd, as LionsXII goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud was called into action early with a superb diving save to deny Tuah Iskandar Jamaluddin.

But it was the visitors who struck first in the 4th minute, as Amri started and finished a move that was very much against the run of play.

Zulfahmi Arifin received the ball from his teammate before whipping in a cross that Faris Ramli took to the goal line.

The pacy LionsXII winger managed to cut the ball back under pressure, as Amri ran on to slam an unstoppable shot past Zamir Selamat in the Perak goal.

If Perak were stunned by the early opener, they didn't show it as Namkung and Chad Souza continued to harry the LionsXII defenders.

Afiq Yunos got away with a foul on Chad Souza in the 17th minute, with the referee waving play on after the two had tangled just outside the penalty box while challenging for a Namkung knock down.

Amri also had a chance to double the advantage after a booming Izwan clearance saw him break the Perak offside trap, but his first touch took him away from goal.

The forward was not going to let the opportunity go though, taking on five Perak defenders before squeezing the ball to an onrushing Isa Halim.

Alas, the LionsXII captain could only slash into the side netting from an acute angle.

You could sense a goal coming, and a set piece was to prove troublesome for the visitors once again in the 27th minute.

Afiq took out both player and ball near the corner flag and Nurridzuan Abu Hassan needed no second invitation, whipping the free kick into the box.

Namkung rose highest once more with a well-timed flick on header, allowing strike partner Chad Souza to stab home at the far post.

Perak then half-cleared a free kick at the other end, with Izzdin Shafiq pulling off an acrobatic half volley from outside the box that almost wrongfooted Zamir via a wicked deflection off Amri.

The goalkeeper recovered in time to palm it away, but received a painful blow to the head from defender Thiago Junio who was desperately trying to clear the ball.

It was the hosts who came out of the break looking the more determined side, and they duly took the lead four minutes after halftime.

Namkung took advantage of some slack defending, slipping in between central defender Madhu Mohana and right back Nazrul Nazari as a cross came in.

The former South Korean international had all the time in the world to pick his spot and place his header beyond Izwan's despairing reach as the LionsXII suddenly found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline.

Coach Fandi's next move was to prove an inspired one, as he hauled off Zulfahmi for Firdaus Kasman just a minute after the goal.

The substitute's fresh legs started making a difference in midfield, as forward Sahil Suhaimi and defender Wahyudi Wahid were also introduced.

The pressure finally told in the 68th minute, as Firdaus' close attentions caused Junio to fluff an attempted overhead clearance.

Firdaus pounced on the loose ball, took a touch to find some space, before unleashing a stunning 25-yard shot that landed in the Perak goal.

There were a few more cagey moments as Izwan continued to nurse his injured right shoulder, but Amri could have won the match late but for a timely block from Junio.

A weak punch from Zamir in the 88th minute went only as far as the lurking striker, but his shot could not beat the defender on the line.

Photo: Association of Singapore