Kuala Lumpur City have been crowned ASEAN Zone champions of AFC Cup 2022 after surviving a stirring but brief PSM Makassar fightback to claim a 5-2 win in Wednesday's zonal final at Kuala Lumpur Stadium.
The Malaysia Super League outfit started the brighter of the two teams as they dominated proceedings early on, duly taking the lead three minutes after the half-hour mark through a well-worked effort.
- How did ASEAN football fare overall in 2022-23 ACL?
- JDT's ACL dream ends but they will learn from humbling defeat
- Rampant Urawa Red Diamonds proving the real deal in ACL
A deep Kamal Azizi cross was nodded across the face of goal by Paulo Josue and kept alive at the byline by Zhafri Yahya, whose inventive header back into the danger area was met by a clinical finish into the bottom corner from Romel Morales.
Right on the stroke of halftime, KL City doubled their tally with a sweeping counter as Josue and Morales combined to release Jordan Mintah down the left, with the Ghanaian proceeding to power a shot past Reza Arya at his near post.
The hosts were then awarded a penalty which was duly converted by Josue and -- with a 3-0 lead in their possession at the 52nd-minute mark -- it looked as though they would be cruising to victory.
However, PSM refused to throw in the towel and duly pulled one back in the 58th minute through a ferocious 25-yard drive by Yakob Sayuri, before further reducing the deficit five minutes later after Akbar Tanjung escaped his marker to meet a Rasyid Bakri corner with a bullet header into the back of the net.
But any hopes the Indonesian Liga 1 club had of pulling off a miraculous comeback were effectively ended with four minutes remaining, when Josue pounced after Reza spilled a speculative Mintah effort to score his second of the evening.
And deep into injury-time, KL City went on to cap off what was ultimately a dominant display when another penalty was coolly finished off by substitute Hadin Azman.
With the win, KL City now march on into the inter-zone semifinals off the AFC Cup, where they will meet South Asia Zone winners ATK Mohun Bagan.