JOHOR BAHRU - They were on a high after beating last week's Malaysian Super League (MSL) leaders Pahang 4-2, but a second successive giant-killing act proved a step too far for the LionsXII on Wednesday night.
In front of a partisan 20,100 crowd at the Larkin Stadium, the team lost 1-0 to defending champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT), who had reached the summit after Pahang's loss last Saturday.
Argentinian striker Luciano Figueroa, who has five goals in his last four matches, dealt the crucial blow, as he fired home in the 55th minute after eluding LionsXII defender Madhu Mohana with a superb turn.
LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad had set his team out to soak up the pressure against a JDT side that have won all their nine home games prior to the match. It nearly worked, with JDT having two shots on target for the match.
After going a goal down, he sent on speedy striker Sahil Suhami to try and restore parity, but to no avail.
Defeat leaves the LionsXII seventh in seventh place with 29 points, 14 points behind JDT. They play Selangor next at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.