Thiago Augusto scored a penalty and set up another as Kedah downed a resilient PDRM FA 2-1 in their Malaysia Cup first-leg semifinal on Friday night, with all three goals scored through spot kicks at Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Setar.
Brazilian striker Guilherme De Paula, a Malaysia Cup winner with Selangor last year, grabbed a precious away goal to give PDRM hope ahead of the second leg on Oct. 14.
The showpiece game, in front of 25,000 vocal fans, might have seen 2015 finalists Kedah dominate if not for Shane Smeltz's uncharacteristic miss from a sitter in the third minute.
Thiago Augusto's left-wing cross met Baddrol Bakhtiar's heavy touch, but his lack of control found Smeltz in front of the PDRM goal, with only Haziq Nadzli to beat. The New Zealand striker, however, fluffed his lines and dragged the effort agonisingly wide.
But Kedah went in front five minutes later, thanks to a moment of magic from Thiago Augusto. The Brazilian forward's overhead flick and turn left three defenders in his wake, and resulted in a penalty after he was brought down as he bore down on goal. Augusto dusted himself off to dispatch the spot kick with ease, increasing the decibels' level in the ground.
- Football Malaysia (@footballmasllp) September 30, 2016
PDRM, who are fighting relegation in the Malaysia Super League, drew level through a penalty of their own 10 minutes later, thanks to Guilherme.
The speedy 29-year-old found himself with time and space inside the box, but was shrugged off the ball by Bang Seung Hwan just as he prepared to pull the trigger. De Paula had to retake his attempt after his first spot kick was ruled out due to early movement from the Kedah players. He slotted home his second attempt with ease for his seventh goal in the 2016 tournament.
The haul put him at the top of the scoring charts, but more importantly it put the visitors on the front foot early, with an away goal.
Safuwan Baharuddin, captain on the night, could have then celebrated his newborn's birth with PDRM's second goal. But his belter from 25 yards, midway through the half, flew just wide.
The second half kicked off with Tan Cheng Hoe forced into a dual substitution after defenders Seung Hwan and Ariff Farhan were injured. On came Syawal Nordin and Azmeer Yusof in their places.
The defensive shake up saw Kedah ease off the attacking pace, and PDRM almost capitalise. First, Fauzi Majid's snap shot just cleared the crossbar before Safuwan's far post header was turned away by Ifwat Akmal.
Just as it seemed the game was headed for a draw, Augusto's powerful drive ended with him being fouled for the second time in the penalty box, this time by Haziq. Up stepped Liridon Krasniqi, who sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to give Kedah a slender advantage going into the second leg in two weeks' time.
Kedah: Ifwat Akmal (GK), Khairul Helmi Johari (C), Bang Seung-Hwan (Syawal Nordin 48'), Arif Farhan (Azmeer Yusof 55'), Rizal Ghazali, Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Liridon Krasniqi, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Syazwan Zainon (Halim Saari 80'), Thiago Augusto, Shane Smeltz
PDRM FA: Haziq Nadzli (GK), Safuwan Bahruddin (C), Andre Fransisco, Abdul Latif Suhaimi, Christopher Keli (Syahmi Shakir 70'), Amir Saiful, Souleymane Konate, Eskandar Ismail, Guilherme De Paula, Fakrul Aiman, Fauzi Abdul Majid