SINGAPORE - The LionsXII all but sealed a spot in the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals after edging past Johor Darul Takzim II 1-0 in their penultimate group match on Saturday.
Midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman's delightful left-foot finish from an inch-perfect Shakir Hamzah cross separated the two sides in a feisty encounter at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The win moved the Singapore outfit up to top spot in Group A with 10 points from five games - three ahead of Kedah, who lost 3-1 at Terengganu.
JDT II remain on four points, albeit with a game in hand. The top two teams will go on to the quarter-finals.
The LionsXII can seal their progress by avoiding defeat in their final group match away to Terengganu on Nov 7.
Striker Sahil Suhaimi should have opened the scoring for the hosts as early as the ninth minute. Running onto Izwan Mahbud's booming goal-kick, the striker's chip beat onrushing goalkeeper K. Sasikumar but bounced just wide of the post.
JDT II spurned their own gilt-edged chance in the 21st minute, when Akmal Ishak scuffed his effort across goal after an uncharacteristic slip from LionsXII centre-back Madhu Mohana.
At the other end, Sasikumar pulled off two back-to-back parries to deny forward Faris Ramli. Izwan too was in top form, making some late stops in the dying minutes.
The LionsXII held on for the precious win in front of a crowd of 5,486, though the celebrations were dampened slightly when right-back Faritz Hameed was stretchered off.
Strikers Khairul Amri and Khairul Nizam are already sidelined by injury, while defensive linchpins Madhu Mohana and Izzdin Shafiq will be suspended for the Terengganu clash.