10-man Selangor beat Kelantan, advance to Malaysia Cup QF
Ten-man Selangor confirmed their Malaysia Cup quarterfinal berth after romping to their second comprehensive victory in three days, with a 4-1 demolition of Kelantan in Group B at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium on Friday night.
The Red Giants had convincingly dispatched Pahang 3-0 on Tuesday, two days after the club sacked Zainal Abidin Hassan and left coaching duties to assistant K. Gunalan.
Kelantan, who before Friday's games were the only team besides Kedah to have confirmed a quarterfinal spot, were a much changed outfit from the side who beat Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Velizar Popov started the game with an all-local cast that also excluded lynchpins Khairul Fahmi and captain Badhri Radzi.
But it were the hosts who started brightly, with Fakrul Zaman flashing an effort just wide after two minutes, before Khairul Izuan's free kick drew a save from his name sake Khairul Azhan.
Azhan would have little to do from that point on, as Selangor went ahead in the 21st minute through Adbul Hadi Yahya's penalty.
Ugo Ukah's header across goal fell nicely for Patrick "Ronaldinho" Wleh before the striker became a victim of a two-footed lunge from Shahrizan Ismail.
The Kelantan custodian was lucky to stay on the pitch despite ugly challenge, but could do little to keep out Yahya's shot which rocketed into the top corner.
Five minutes later, the visitors found themselves 3-0 to the good after shoddy defending from Popov's men.
First, R. Gopinathan doubled their advantage with a smart finish from Wleh's cross in the 23rd minute. Then, the Liberian then deservedly got on the scoresheet when he converted Andik Vermansyah's low cross three minutes later.
Kelantan were given a lifeline through their own penalty after Ukah brought down Indra Putra in the box, and Wan Zaharulnizam converted to reduce the deficit in the 35th minute.
The Red Warriors should have capitalised further when Selangor full-back Bunyamin Umar received his marching orders in the 48th minute for a second yellow card offence.
Instead, Gunalan's men added a fourth in the 56th minute after Wleh had all the time to stroll through the Kelantan defence before firing at Shahrizan.
The keeper smothered his shot, and when it bounced off Wleh to an unmarked Gopinathan in front of goal, the winger duly tapped home his second of the night to confirm Selangor's spot in the knockout rounds. That result meant Pahang and Kuala Lumpur were dumped out of the competition.
Pahang had beaten Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in the other Group B game, but the win was rendered meaningless after the result in Kota Bharu.
Felda United also confirmed their last eight berth with a 3-0 success at Terengganu, with goals coming from Norfazly Alias, Francis Forkey Doe and Zah Rahan Krangar.
Melaka United kept alive hopes of joining them after dispatching Negeri Sembilan 2-0 in the other Group D encounter.
Selangor: Khairul Azhan (C), Bunyamin Umar, Ugo Ukah, Rizal Fahmi, Azmi Muslim, Andik Vermanshah (Hazwan Bakri 83'), Abdul Hadi Yahya, Saiful Ridzuwan, S. Veenod, R.Gopinathan (Adam Nor Azlin 67'), Patrick Wleh
Kelantan: Wan Zaharul Nizam Khairul Izuan (Manaf Mamat 59'), Noor Hazrul, Daudsu Jamaluddin, Amir Zikri, Indra Putra Mahayuddin (C), Zairul Fitree, Faizal Abu Bakar (Daniel Ashraf 46'), Shahrizan Ismail (GK), Faris Shah, Fakhrul Zaman (Norfarhan Mohamad 63')
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.