Malaysia stutter to victory

In a game in which Malaysia dominated, the talking point will no doubt be the red card shown to star playmaker Mohd Nazmi Faiz Mansor rather than the result itself.

Timor-Leste did not have the best preparation for the match after a handful of players were required to assist the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in a match-fixing case, and matters didn't get any better for Fábio Magrao's side as they immediately found themselves under pressure.

D. Saarvindran put Malaysia ahead after 11 minutes after the winger drilled the ball past Timor-Leste goalkeeper Ramos Saozinho Ribeiro after Nurridzuan Hassan's cross had fallen kindly to him following some great work down the left flank.

Syafiq Ahmad should have made it 2-0 just minutes later, but a double save from Ribeiro denied him after he was put through by Sabas Victor. Whie Ribeiro stood tall in the face of the onrushing Ahmad, the striker will feel a goal was his for the taking.

In the 32nd minute the game's major talking point unfolded, with Faiz Mansor shown a straight red card by referee Foo Chuan Hui after appearing to spit at Timo-Leste midfielder Filipe Oliveira.

Despite being down to ten men Malaysia continued to dominate, but could not extend their lead, and they had to deal with a rejuvenated Timor-Leste outfit after the break.

Alves Ima Kefi came close to equalising for Timor-Leste in the 61st minute, with his effort deflected behind for a corner.

Amer Saidin came close to making it 2-0 for Malaysia when his header at the back post from a Nazirul Naim bounced off the bar.

Timor-Leste cpatain Almeida Barbosa nearly grabbed a draw at the death, but his low free-kick was superbly kept out by Mohd Farhan Abu Bakar in the Malaysia goal.

Malaysia hung on to claim the victory, and while the three points are in the bag, Datuk Ong Kim Swee will be left with something of a headache as he will be forced to prepare for the upcoming games against Vietman and Thailand without the services of Faiz Mansor.