Harimau Muda opened their World Universities Games campaign in Kazan by defeating Italy with the score line of 2-0 yesterday. Goals from Thamil Arasu and D. Saarvindran was more than enough to secure a pivotal victory in what was a topsy-turvy match for both sides.
Ong Kim Swee's men opened the scoring as early as in the 20th minute when Thamil Arasu slotted home after being assisted brilliantly by Irfan Fazail. However when the second half kicked off, it was all action from then.
Five Harimau Muda players were shown yellow cards early in the second half, before Italy got a men sent off in the 67th minute. Andre Settembrini was accused of fouling Saarvindran and left the referee with no choice but to show him the red.
Minutes later, Izham Tarmizi comitted a foul inside the penalty box and he was sent off as well, leaving Harimau Muda with 10 men. Hazwan Bakri was sacrificed in order to bring on reserve goalkeeper Farhan Abu Bakar and the man did not disaapoint by instantly saving the penalty attempt from Manuel Ricci.
However just five minutes later, Syahrul Azwari was given an early bath for a foul inside the penalty box, thus giving Italy yet another penalty. Andrea Bureto stepped up, but his attempt was superbly parried away again by Farhan Abu Bakar.
Harimau Muda were left with nine men for the last 10 minutes of the game, in which Italy pushed hard to find the equalizer.
However, the pressure finally got to them as they gifted Ong's troops with a penalty after Wan Zaharulnizam appeared to be fouled inside the penalty box. D. Saarvindran made no mistakes by firing home to give Harimau Muda a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Italy.
Ong Kim Swee's men will next face Great Britain on Monday night.