Football: LionsXII return to top of Malaysian Super League with 3-1 home win over ATM

The LionsXII surged back to the top of the Malaysian Super League after a 3-1 win over ATM at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.

Skipper Shahril Ishak, recently named the Asean Football Federation Player of the Year, produced a sparkling performance by scoring one and setting up another.

The 29-year-old attacking midfielder latched on to Isa Halim's accurate long pass in the 27th minute before sending a low cross for striker Shahfiq Ghani to side-foot home.

On the stroke of half-time, right winger Nazrul Nazari was tripped in the box by defender Amiridzwan Tajuddin. Shahril converted the spot kick by firing into the bottom left corner.

ATM, the team from the Malaysian armed forces, pulled one back in the 61st minute when striker Marlon James grabbed his 13th goal of the campaign when he was left unmarked during a corner kick and he scored with a tap-in.

But Shahfiq restored the two-goal cushion with a swerving and dipping shot from outside the box in the 71st minute that gave goalkeeper Farizal Harun no chance.

V. Sundramoorthy's men achieved victory against the odds with a depleted side. Centre-backs Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin, both first-team regulars, are suspended while midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin, who was slated to start against ATM, dislocated two toes in a motorbike accident.

Vice-captain Hariss Harun also twisted his right ankle on the eve of the game and was fielded only after passing a late fitness test.

The LionsXII lead the 12-team table with 27 points, two ahead of second-placed Johor Darul Takzim.