LIONSXII crowned Super League champions

LIONSXII were crowned champions of the Malaysia Super League on Tuesday evening after cruising to a 4-0 win over FELDA United at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Reporting from the Jalan Besar Stadium

In a game that was largely dominated by the hosts, the deadlock was broken two minutes after the break when Azrul Ahmad scored an own-goal, before Shahril Ishak doubled his team's tally in the 58th minute with a poacher's finish.

Three minutes later, Fazrul Nawaz added a third from close range before substitute Shahfiq Ghani fired home a fourth in the 86th minute to wrap up the three points, and the Super League crown, for the LIONSXII.

Entering Tuesday's clash knowing a win would be enough for them to seal the title with a game to spare, the Singaporean outfit showed plenty of intent from the opening whistle and threatened the opposition goal as early as the seventh minute.

Chasing a long ball over the top, Fazrul did well to legally barge Shafizan Hashim off the ball to break free inside the area, only to fire his shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Three minutes later, they tested Rozaimie Rohim for the first time when he had to tip over a looping header by Faris Ramli, after the winger had pounced on a clearance and sent the ball back towards goal.

It then appeared as though the deadlock had been broken in the 15th minute when Nazrul Nazari laid the ball back to the edge of the box for Hariss Harun, whose ferocious shot was glanced home by Fazrul Nawaz, only for the strike to be chalked off by the linesman's flag for offside.

The LIONSXII continued to pile the pressure on as the half wore on and carved out another chance two minutes before the break when Fazrul's reverse pass looked set to send Nazrul Nazari racing thorugh until Azi Shahril Azmi got a vital touch on the ball, giving Rozaimie enough time to clear the danger.

Just before the break, the finishing touch remained elusive for the hosts as Faris' left-wing cross was half-cleared straight to Fazrul, but he snatched at what was a difficult chance and could only blaze over from eight yards out.

But having failed to find a way to goal for the entire opening 45, it took the hosts just two minutes of the second half to finally claim the lead; Shahril winning a freekick down the right and swinging it into the box, where Azrul's vain attempt to head it clear only resulted in him turning the ball into his own goal.

Two minutes before the hour mark, it was 2-0 when Faris, racing onto a neat pass by Fazrul, floated in a first-time cross that was missed by Azrul Azmi and dropped to Shahril, who made no mistake in smashing the ball into the back of the net.

Just three minutes later, the three points were well and truly in the bag when the LIONSXII added a third after Shahril pounced on a poor defensive header and turned the ball towards goal, where it was met by Fazrul and stabbed home from a yard out.

With a comfortable lead to hold onto, V. Sundramoorthy's charges began to play out the remainder of the game but there was still time for one final highlight in what has been a terrific campaign by them.

With six minutes left on the clock, Shahril received the ball just inside the opposition half and delivered a glorious through-ball to Shahfiq, who made no mistake in sliding his shot past Rozaimie and into the bottom corner.

Shortly after, the final whistle sounded but the party at the Jalan Besar Stadium had only just begun as the LIONSXII were crowned league champions of Malaysia in only their second season in the competition.

LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Hameed (Madhu Mohana 56'), Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Irwan Shah, Hariss Harun, Izzdin Shafiq, Nazrul Nazari (Hafiz Abu Sujad 74'), Shahril Ishak, Faris Ramli, Fazrul Nawaz (Shahfiq Ghani 65').

FELDA United: Rozaimie Rohim, Shafizan Hashim, Azi Shahril Azmi, Azrul Azmi, Amar Rohidan, Nizam Abu Bakar, Nsumbu Mazuwa, Hazsyafiq Hamzah (Rudie Ramli 57'), Akmal Mohd Noor (Azmi Muslim 63'), Leonel Saint Preux, Azrul Ahmad.

Attendance: 7,650

Image courtesy of FAS (Shirly Hamra)

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