Malaysia held by gritty Hong Kong

Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal's tinkering backfired on Wednesday as his side were held to a 1-1 draw at the Shah Alam Stadium.

Harimau Malaya: Zubir Azmi

By ESPNSTAR.com staff

Harimau Malaya star Safee Sali opened the scoring in the 58th minute when he turned home a pinpoint cross from Amar Rohidan, and the hosts' prospects of victory were given a further boost ten minutes from time when opposition captain Lee Chi Ho was sent off.

However, Lam Hok Hei capitalised on a weak backpass by Aidil Zafuan in the 88th minute and put the ball past Khairul Fahmi to steal a draw for Hong Kong.

The draw means Malaysia are now winless in their last three outings, following defeats to Vietnam and Thailand, and eyebrows are already being raised ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup later this month, which Rajagobal's charges head into as defending champions.

The first half was a dull affair with both teams cautious in their approach but Safee was first to carve out a chance in the 16th minute from Norshahrul Idlan Talaha's pass but his weak volley was saved easily by Yapp Hung Fai.

Three minutes later, the visiting team had its first chance with Lee Wai Lim's shot but Khairul Fahmi was equal to the task.

S. Kunalan, who recently completed a move from Negri Sembilan to fellow Malaysia Super League outfit Selangor, was the main threat for the hosts with his bursts down the flanks and it was he who called Yapp into action once more in the 28th minute after Norshahrul released him with an incisive pass.

As the half wore on, Hong Kong gradually found their rhythm and created a good chance just before the break when Lee Wai Lim let fly from the edge of the area with an effort Fahmi could only push to Lee Hong Lim, but thankfully for the hosts, Fadhli Shas was on hand to deny him with a last-ditch tackle.

Urged on by a raucous home crowd, Malaysia stepped up a notch in the second half and duly opened the scoring a minute before the hour mark when Safee met a searching cross from the right by Amar Rohidan with a bullet header into the back of the net.

The visitors were then dealt a blow in the 80th minute Lee Chi Ho was given his marching orders seven minutes later but Malaysia failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage and two minutes from time, Lam pounced on a mistake by Aidil and stroked the ball past the onrushing Fahmi to earn his side a well-deserved draw



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