Kelantan down Selangor to make final

Kelantan put in a dominant performance at the Shah Alam Stadium on Friday to beat Selangor 2-0 and progress to the Malaysia Cup final 3-0 on aggregate.

Selangor vs Kelantan

By Gabriel Tan

Despite having a one-goal lead to sit back on following last week's first leg, the Red Warriors looked the more adventurous of the two sides and had their fair share of chances, only to be kept at bay by an inspired display from Selangor goalkeeper Norazlan Razali.

Nonetheless, they finally found the breakthrough in the 85th minute when Mohammad Ghaddar scored with a fine solo effort, before substitute Badhri Radzi added another for good measure in injury-time with a sublime freekick.

With the win, Kelantan kept their treble hopes alive following triumphs in the Super League and the FA Cup earlier this year, and also ended their opponents' bid for a 33rd Malaysia Cup title - dubbed "Mission 33" before the start of the competition.

Standing in the way of Bojan Hodak's men and a second Malaysia Cup title will be ATM, who saw off LIONSXII 5-4 on penalties on Thursday following a 2-2 aggregate draw.

Having lost by the narrowest of margins in last Saturday's first leg at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium, the Red Giants entered Friday's match very much in with a chance of progressing to the final, but it was the visitors who got showed the greater intent from the opening whistle.

13 minutes in, Selangor very nearly conceded what would have been a costly goal when Ghaddar outjumped Bunyamin Umar in the box and met a long ball by Obinna Nwaneri with a bullet header that looked headed for the top corner. Thankfully for them, Norazlan was equal to the task and denied the Lebanon international with a flying save.

Buoyed at nearly taking the lead, the visitors began to grow in confidence, with wingers Norfarhan Muhammad and Nurul Azwan Roya looking very likely and in the 17th minute, the latter had a decent chance when he stole possession from S. Venood in a dangerous area and curled his shot just wide.

Despite their opponents' early dominance, the Red Giants were always going to threaten given the quality in their side, and Amri Yahyah produced a timely reminder of that in the 23rd minute when he unleashed a 25-yard rocket that was spilled by Khairul Fahmi. The loose ball fell straight to Solihin Kanasian who looked odds-on to fire his side ahead, only to be called for offside.

Six minutes later, the linesman's flag halted another Selangor attack but this time round, they had every right to be aggrieved as replays showed Rozaimi Abdul Rahman had not been in an offside position following a neat one-two with captain Safiq Rahim, which had been the final touch to an impressive passing move that also involved Bosko Balaban and Amri.

Norazlan then produced another terrific save to tip away a looping shot from Ghaddar in the 38th minute, after the striker had barged Ramez Dayoub over to win the ball before exchanging passes with Norfarhan.

A minute before the break, it was Fahmi's turn to come to his side's rescue when he produced a flew through the air to tip over a ferocious half-volley by Balaban, who had been neatly teed up on the edge of the area.

And while there had already been a plethora of chances in what was proving to be an enthralling encounter, the best opportunity came right on the stroke of halftime when Norfarhan received the ball inside the area before finding Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, who in turn slipped it to Indra Putra Mahayuddin. The ex-Malaysia international showed great poise to skip past Bunyamin's challenge but from 12 yards out, and with the whole goal to aim for, he somehow managed to blaze over.

Seven minutes into the second half, Norazlan continued to keep the Red Warriors at bay, parrying an effort by Ghaddar wide after the Lebanese had sublimely brought down a cross from Norfarhan on his chest and fired away.

Six minutes later, it was beginning to look as though the visitors were never going to find a way past the 26-year-old keeper, who denied Norshahrul from point-blank range after the Malaysia international was picked out unmarked inside the six-yard box by another lovely threaded-ball by Norfarhan.

Kelantan's evening was then soured in the 72nd minute when Norfarhan was ruled out of the final when he picked up a yellow, and three minutes later, Ghaddar followed suit after entering the referee's book for sliding in late on Safiq.

But instead of being affected by the prospect of missing next week's final, Ghaddar instead proceeded to make sure his team-mates would be playing in it five minutes from time, going on a terrific run that saw him beat Venood, ghost past Dayoub and poke the ball through Bunyamin's legs, before lifting a delicate shot over the onrushing Norazlan and into the back of the net.

Now down by two goals on aggregate, the Selangor players knew nothing short of a minor miracle would see them overturn the deficit and in the 88th minute, their hopes took a further blow when Balaban received a straight red for planting his elbow into Nwaneri's face while both were challenging for a header.

Now up by a man as well, the Red Warriors proceeded to play the remainder of the match out comfortably, although there was still time to add the icing in the cake in the fourth minute of injury-time, when Badhri lined up a freekick on the edge of the area and sent a superb effort into top corner, sending his side into next Saturday's final against ATM high on confidence.

Selangor: Norazlan Razali, Razman Roslan, Ramez Dayoub, Bunyamin Umar, Adib Aizuddin (Asraruddin Putra Omar 89'), Solihin Kanasian, S. Venood, Safiq Rahim, Rozaimi Abdul Rahman, (Azidan Sarudin 72') Amri Yahyah, Bosko Balaban.

Kelantan: Khairul Fahmi, Nik Shahrul, Obinna Nwaneri, S. Subramaniam, Daudsu Jamaluddin, Norfarhan Muhammad (Mafry Balang 84'), Shakir Shaari, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Nurul Azwan Roya (Badhri Radzi 74'), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Mohammed Ghaddar (Afiq Azmi 89').



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