Rampant LIONSXII slaughter Sabah

Malaysia Super League leaders LIONSXII were in resplendent form on Saturday evening as they cruised to a 9-0 rout over a hapless Sabah at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The stand-in captain leads the way!

By Gabriel Tan

The Singapore outfit raced to a three-goal lead in the first half courtesy of an Agu Casmir close-range strike and a brace from Hariss Harun, before Shahdan Sulaiman added a double shortly after the hour mark to make it 5-0.

Irwan Shah got in on the act in the 65th minute, Hariss completed his hat-trick five minutes later before Sufian Anuar and an own-goal from Shahrul Azhar Ture capped off a magnificent night for the V. Sundramoorthy's charges.

Heading into Saturday's game, many had been wondering where the goals were going to come from for the LIONSXII, given the number of injuries they have had in the attacking department.

With Shahril Ishak, Khairul Amri and Khairul Nizam all ruled out and Sufian Anuar only just back in training, Sundramoorthy opted to deploy the oft-criticised Casmir as a lone striker and it only took him 19 minutes to repay his coach's faith.

From a short corner, Juma'at Jantan swung in a terrific delivery that was met at the far post by Baihakki Khaizan and nodded back across the face of goal, leaving Casmir with an easy tap-in from two yards out to give his side the lead.

One of the LIONSXII's strengths all season long has been their dominance at set-pieces and four minutes later, they went two up after Baihakki ventured forward once again and caused all sorts of problems for the Sabah defence. His initial header was well saved by Irwan Jamil but the ball went straight back to the towering centre-back, whose mishit follow-up effort was pounced on and drilled home by Hariss.

By now, Sundramoorthy's charges were fully in control of the contest and they duly went further ahead four minutes before the break when Casmir picked up the ball on the left flank and laid the ball off to stand-in captain Hariss, who put his head down and charged into the area before sidefooting a shot into the bottom corner.

Highlights: Lions XII 9-0 Sabah.. More Videos

And while the game was already all but over at halftime, the LIONSXII showed no signs of letting up after the break; with playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman getting in on the act in the 63rd minute with one of the goals of the season after he controlled a cross from Casmir and delightfully lobbed a hapless Irwan.

LIONSXII goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at, who had been a virtual spectator for the entire game, nearly handed Sabah a consolation goal two minutes later when he fumbled a shot into the path of Brendan Gan, although he did well to recover before the Australian could prod home the rebound. And straight from the resultant counter-attack, Shahdan grabbed his second by applying the finishing touches to another free-flowing move.

Casmir then turned provider for the third time in the 69th minute when he broke free down the right and floated in a ball for Irwan to score with a slightly fortuitous strike that went in off his standing foot, before Hariss completed his hat-trick when he fired home a Shaiful Esah cross.

The scoreline that reached slightly embarrassing proportions as Sufian came off the bench and powered in a header for the hosts' eighth in the 85th minute, before the rout was complete a minute from time when Shahdan's drilled cross was poked into his own net by an unfortunate Shahrul.

And while second-placed Kelantan remain just six points behind with five games in hand after a 2-1 win over Kedah, the LIONSXII ensured they let their title rivals know they aren't giving up yet without a fight.

LIONSXII: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Madhu Mohana, Baihakki Khaizan, Sevki Sha'ban, Shakir Hamzah (Shaiful Esah 67'), Juma'at Jantan (Yasir Hanapi 78'), Isa Halim, Hariss Harun, Irwan Shah, Shahdan Sulaiman, Agu Casmir (Sufian Anuar 73').

Sabah: Irwan Jamil, Alto Linus, Rosdin Wasli, Mafry Balang, Sumardi Hajalan (Ronny Harun 16', Zulmansyah Aling 46'), Sharudin Yakup, Zuraindey Jumai, Hendrik Helmke, Shahrul Azhar Ture, Zainizam Marjan, Brendan Gan (Leopold Otong 80').



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