Malaysia went into their Group A SEA Games men's football match against Myanmar needing a win, in order to grab the opportunity to end the group stage as group winners.
The hosts knew that they had to play better than the way they did in their two previous matches, conceding an early equaliser to minnows Brunei before winning 2-1, then falling behind first to Singapore before eventually winning the Causeway derby with a similar scoreline.
Against the White Angels, the Young Tigers again started brightly, but in the first 30 minutes they could not make their possession count. But little by little they chipped at the 2015 silver medalists' defence, and when an opportunity presented itself Malaysia's Johnny-on-the-spot and eventual man of the match made sure he did not miss.
In the 33rd minute Safawi Rasid delivered a short cross from the left which Matthew Davies tried to finish with a volley. His attempt had accuracy, but went in the direction of Thanabalan Nadarajah in the six yard box. The forward barely needed to move to stab the ball into the back of the net, and give Malaysia the lead.
Malaysia would double their lead just two minutes later through Safawi's header, but in the second half they were pinned back in their own half by Myanmar who were searching for the goal that would bring them back from the dead.
Thanabalan again settled the home fans' nerves, by scoring his second and Malaysia's third of the night eight minutes from time. Substitute Jafri Firdaus Chew took the ball to the left of the Myanmar penalty box, and tarried there awhile looking for a teammate in the box.
Bounding into the box as if it was his first minute on the pitch was again Thanabalan, and Jafri squared a pin-point cross. The Felcra FC man threw himself into the path of the cross, headed the ball into the bottom corner, and sent the Shah Alam Stadium into rapture.
Thanabalan now has three goals to his name in the competition, while Malaysia only need a draw against minnows Laos in their final group match to top Group A.