Super sub Sahil Suhaimi inspires LionsXII to win first Malaysia FA Cup

LionsXII forward Sahil Suhaimi came off the bench to score a late brace in a 3-1 victory over Kelantan FA to help the Singapore side win the Malaysia FA Cup for the first time at the Bukit Jalil Stadium on Saturday night.

Suhaimi edged LionsXII ahead 2-1 with less than 10 minutes to go before putting the game beyond reach when he converted a penalty in added time.

Like most Cup finals, both teams started the game in cagey fashion but it did not take long for LionsXII to bulge goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat's net.

Right-back Nik Shahrul Azim was caught out by Izzdin Shafiq's majestic through ball in the seventh minute to find Faris Ramli, who rounded Fahmi before slotting into an empty net.

Five minutes later, Kelantan almost drew level when Wan Zack Haikal beat the offside trap but Izwan Mahbud stuck out a leg to push it out for a corner.

It was all Kelantan at that point with Gilmar da Silva and Erwin Carrillo calling the shots in attack.

The giant Brazilian Gilmar found space in the 17th minute but could only rifle his shot into the Kelantan crowd behind the goal.

Azraai Khor's team had two magnificent opportunities in the 25th and 26th minutes to level the game, but Izwan and right-back Nazrul Nazari stood tall to deny them.

Gilmar combined with the Colombian forward Carrillo but after doing the hard work to get past Madhu Mohana, the latter was up in arms as Izwan stuck out a leg to push the ball away.

Barely a minute later, Wan Zack's cut-back found Carrillo whose shot was brilliantly blocked by Nazrul to maintain LionsXII's one-nil advantage.

The visitors finally carved out another opportunity in the 34th minute when some fine work from Faris allowed Khairul Amri to angle his shot just wide off the left post.

Pressure was back on Izwan's goal from the restart when Carrillo's knock-down left Gilmar all the time in the world, only to see the forward drill his effort narrowly wide.

The second half continued in the same vein, with Kelantan dominating possession, and Wan Zack beginning to influence the game more.

It was Carrillo and Gilmar who carried the greatest threat with the Colombian breaking free in the 52nd minute. But man-of-the-match Izwan came up with another save to halt him in his tracks. Gilmar skied the subsequent corner as the momentum continued to go the way of the Red Warriors.

Kelantan's efforts finally paid off in the 63rd minute when a Gilmar through ball found Wan Zack who poked it past a charging Izwan to level the scores at 1-1 and send the sea of red into a mad frenzy.

Sensing a turning of the tide, the Red Warriors went for broke and almost fashioned a second goal two minutes later when Carrillo's 20-yard rocket was tipped over by a leaping Izwan.

Azraai Khor made a bold move by bringing on another attacker in Farhan Mohamad on 71 minutes for holding midfielder Norhafiz Zamani. The substitute made an instant impact when he rattled the post with a scorcher two minutes later.

Just when the game looked to be heading into extra-time, Sahil Suhaimi -- who came on in the 58th minute for Khairul Nizam -- went on a mazy run in the 82nd minute after stealing the ball from Nik Shahrul. He cut in and fired a peach of a shot past a stranded Fahmi Che Mat to give the LionsXII a shock 2-1 lead.

Try as they might but Kelantan could not come up with a second equaliser.

It was Sahil who made it 3-1 from the penalty spot in the first minute of added time after being brought down by Amirizwan Taj Tajuddin.

Referee Zanzaudu Katimin took little time to blow the final whistle to give LionsXII their first ever Malaysia FA Cup title. This is the Singapore outfit's second major piece of silverware, to go with their 2013 Malaysian Super League title.

Kelantan: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Zairul Fitree Ishak, Jon McKain, Amirizdwan Taj Tajuddin, Noor Hazrul, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah (Farhan Mohamad 71'), Badhri Radzi (C), Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria, Wan Zack Haikal (Austin Amutu 74'), Erwin Carrillo, Gilmar Da Silva

LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud (GK) (C), Hafiz Sujad, Madhu Mohana, Zulfahmi Arifin, Nazrul Nazari, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Gabriel Quak (Christopher Van Huizen 88'), Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri (Firdaus Kasman 80'), Khairul Nizam (Sahil Suhaimi 58')