Hazwan Bakri on target as Selangor edge T-Team in Malaysia Cup semifinal
Ugo Ukah smashed home a late winner as Selangor turned on a dominant second-half showing to dispatch T-Team 2-1 in the home leg of their Malaysia Cup semifinal on Saturday night.
The former Nigeria international popped up with the goal nine minutes from full-time to give the defending champions a slim lead ahead of the second leg on Oct. 15.
A substandard league campaign left Selangor with only this Cup to play for this season, so a positive result in the first leg was crucial if they were to repeat their feat from 2015.
Backed by their largest crowd of the season of 15,000 at Shah Alam Stadium, the Red Giants started on the front foot, with early chances to Patrick Wleh and Andik Vermanshah.
Wleh saw an effort drift just wide before T-Team custodian Ilham Amirullah's fingertips denied Indonesia international Vermanshah from a half volley after 14 minutes.
But the Titans weathered the early storm to go in front with their first attack of the game in the 21st minute. Safawi Rashid did well to power his way into the six-yard box before he was charged down by Selangor right-back Bunyamin Umar. Referee Syed Azhar had no qualms pointing to the spot, and Patrick Cruz buried his shot past Khairul Azhan to put T-Team in front, much to the delight of their sizeable away support.
Rahmat Darmawan's side could have doubled their lead just minutes later, but Zulhanizam Shafine saw his effort cleared off the line by Rizal Fahmi.
Selangor looked shorn of ideas going forward, but drew level on the stroke of half-time, courtesy of Hazwan Bakri's immaculate finish.
An inswinging corner was only half cleared. and the ball fell to Hazwan on the edge of the penalty box. The striker, without much backlift, curled home a sublime effort into the top corner for his third goal in as many games.
A different Selangor side emerged after the break, with more vigour and intensity going forward.
R. Gopinathan saw his effort hacked off the line after Wleh has done the dirty work of rounding the goalkeeper five minutes after the restart. Then Hazwan forced a save from Ilham when he should have scored.
Selangor continued their assault on the visitors' fort, and reaped their reward with a second goal from another corner.
T-Team failed to deal with Andik's delivery, and Ukah was on hand to ram home from close range in the 81st minute. It was redemption for the Nigerian centreback, who turned into his own net against Perak in the Malaysia Super League last week.
However, Selangor will still have a lot to do when they travel to Terengganu for the away leg in two weeks' time.
Selangor: Khairul Azhan (GK), Azmi Muslim, Patrick Wleh, Andik Vermanshah (C), Nazmi Faiz, Hazwan Bakri (Abdul Hadi Yahya 90'), Bunyamin Umar (Razman Roslan 85'), Rizal Fahmi, Bunyamin Umar, Ugo Ukah, S. Veenod, R. Gopinathan
T-Team: Abfoulava Maiga, Hasbullah Awang (C), Hassan Basri, Makan Konate, Patrick Cruz, Asrol Ibrahim, Noh Hakim Hassan, Ilham Amirullah (GK), Zulhanizam Shafine, Arif Fadzilah, Safawi Rashid
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.