Malaysia 1 Hong Kong 1: Still no win for Vingada as qualification chance gets bleak
FAM
Tension rose at the end but Malaysia failed to spark in the game as they were held by Hong Kong, which kept the Malayan Tigers bottom of Group B

Malaysia's hope of making it to the 2019 Asian Cup took a great hit on Tuesday after they could only manage a 1-1 draw against Hong Kong. In front of a sparse crowd at Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka, Eduardo 'Nelo' Vingada's charges failed to make full use of the opportunities that opened after Lebanon and North Korea had played to a draw in a game played earlier in the day.

Nelo Vingada had to make due without Khairulazhan Khalid due to illness with Hafizul Hakim replacing him in the goalkeeping department. Elsehwhere the line-up was expected with Darren Lok spearheading the attack. Meanwhile Kim Pan-Gon used a very attacking formation right from the start with only three at the back. At times it looked like 3-5-2 which morphed into a 3-4-3 when Hong Kong are in possession. 

It was Malaysia who threatened first when Darren found space outside the box but his shot in the 10th minute was just wide. Then the visitors had a chance to take the lead when Nazirul Nazim slipped to allow Alexander Oluwatayo the opportunity to drive towards goal. Luckily for Malaysia, Rizal Ghazali sprinted over quickly to make a briliant recovery tackle.

Both side would continue to trade punches in what was an open game. Safiq Rahim struck a free kick just whiskers away from the post before Oluwatayo had a shot saved by Hafizul. Half an hour into the match, Malaysia started to dominate the match but failed to convert the chances created.

Hong Kong's Jean Kilama misjudged a high ball in the 35th minute which Darren took advantage of to run towards goal but had to watch in agony as Yapp Hun Fai pulled off an amazing save. Just a minute later, Amirulhadi Zainal had made a rare foray into the penalty box but just couldn't keep his shot down.

The away side would finish the half stronger when they were presented with two goalscoring chances. On both occasions, Hafizul stood up to the test to first deny Lam Ka Wai's free kick in the 42nd minute and from the ensuing corner kick, was in the a good position to stop Oluwatayo's header.

The nature of the match continued in the same vein in the second half with both sides taking turns to be on the attack. Hong Kong started to look slightly more dangerous and Hafizul had to be called into action again in the 51st minute to pull off a wonderful save from Alessandro Leonardo's shot.

Malaysia didn't heed the warning and would concede just two minutes later. Jaimes McKee was sent through on the left hand side and he droved towards the byline before a perfect cut back found Leonardo in the right place to beat Hafizul for the first time in the match to put Hong Kong 1-0 up.

The lead didn't last long for the visitors as Malaysia struck back within three minutes. Safiq was instrumental in the equaliser as he dribbled past a couple of players before unleashing a shot from outside the box. The ball took a wicked deflection which left Hung Fai stranded and Syazwan Zainon was on hand to slam home to make it 1-1.

Desperate for all three points, Vingada took off Amirulhadi to have an extra attacker in Hazwan Bakri. The extra man in attack almost paid dividends in the 64th minute when Hazwan was put through on goal but saw his shot blocked. Darren was on hand to snap up the rebound but again, couldn't keep his shot on target.

Then Hafizul would come to the rescue in the 75th minute when he had to react quick to deny substitute Wong Wai from sneaking in a free kick at the near post. Malaysia would struggle to create much after that and took an even greater blow in the dying minutes of the match.

First, Rizal was sent off in the 90th minute for a second yellow card which he received because he had re-entered the field of play despite not having received instructions from the referee to do so. The referee from Australia, Christopher Beath also showed a second yellow to Aidil Zafuan for a foul inside the penalty box. 

Beath signalled for the penalty and Malaysia were down to to nine men. But Hafizul dived the correct way to stop Leonardo from getting the winner. 1-1 proved to be the final score but the action didn't end there.

Malaysian players and officials weren't happy with the performance of Beath and showed their dissatisfaction, remonstrating with the referee and his team of officials after the final whistle. Beath and his crew had to be escorted off the pitch by security and it put to a close a disappointing result for Malaysia.

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