Safuwan to the rescue

Safuwan to the rescue
Photo: FAS
Defender’s late winner keeps LionsXII’s hopes of winning the league and cup double alive
Published: 10:06 PM, August 31, 2013
Updated: 7:40 AM, September 2, 2013

SINGAPORE – The LionsXII still have a chance of reaching the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals after a late winner from defender Safuwan Baharudin gave them a 2-1 win over Perak.

Singapore midfielder Hariss Harun had given the home side the lead just past the hour mark but Perak equalized minutes later through a free-kick which could be in line for the goal of the season award. The visitors had a goal disallowed before Safuwan struck win three very valuable points for the LionsXII.

The first-half was a goalless, but ill-tempered affair.

Perak’s Chanturu kicked LionsXII defender Shakir Hamzah in an off-the ball incident, but escaped a red-card after the referee decided to give both players the yellow card instead.

Both sets of players later got into a scuffle after Fazrul Nawaz accused Perak captain Shahrulnizam Mustapa of feigning injury after a challenge.

Tempers cooled after the break and both sides focused on playing attacking football, much to the delight of the fans in attendance.

The breakthrough for the LionsXII finally came just after the hour mark when Hariss Harun got on the end of a cross by Zulfahmi Arifin to send a well-placed header past the Perak goalkeeper and into the back of the net

That lead lasted just five minutes however. A brilliant free-kick from stand-in left-back Noor Hazrul pulled Perak level and silenced the home fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Perak thought they took the lead in the 79th minute when striker Paolo Rangel was gifted a free header in the penalty area but the referee ruled that the ball had not crossed the line. Television replays showed that the referee made the wrong decision.

But it was to be the LionsXII night after Safuwan latched on to a long ball from goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and showed great control and skill to chip the ball over the Perak goalkeeper and earn the LionsXII their first win in this year’s Malaysia Cup.