South Korea U23 2 Malaysia U23 1: Late winner breaks Malaysian hearts
Adam Nor Azlin, Malaysia U23
South Korea needed a late winner from star midfielder Han Seung-gyu to deny Malaysia a semifinal place after a heroic display from the Young Tigers.

It wasn't to be at to be at the end, a valiant performance from Malaysia pushed South Korea to their limits but still wasn't enough to deny one of Asia's powerhouse. The Koreans came up trumps at the death to advance to the semifinal stage of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship.

Ong Kim Swee made one change from the side that beat Saudi Arabia in the last match with Akif Syahiran coming in for R. Kogileswaran as Jafri Chew continues his time on the bench. As for Kim Bong-gil, he made several changes of his own but kept faith with his goalscorers against Australia in Lee Keun-ho and Han Seung-gyu.

It was the worst possible start for Malaysia as South Korea scored right from the kick-off. A long ball pumped to Cho Jae-wan saw him winning a header off Matthew Davies before unleashing a wicked left footed volley past Haziq Nadzli for the Koreans to lead 1-0.

Rather than be shell-shocked by the early goal, Malaysia retained their confidence and composure to start putting their opponents on the back foot. The game plan looked simple enough with Nor Azam Azih being tasked with the job of picking out the runs behind the defence from the front trio.

It was such move that nearly got Malaysia the equaliser as Nor Azam saw the run of Safawi Rasid from deep inside his own half. The delivery was perfect but the bounce of the ball took Safawi by surprise and that allowed keeper Kang Hyeon-mu the chance to clear.

The second half was a much more frantic affairs as both teams started to take more risks in attacking positions. A determined Malaysia came out of the break looking like the first one to find the back of the net.

Adam Nor Azlin blazed one over the bar from a corner kick routine in the 50th minute before Safawi warmed the gloved of Hyeon-mu with a long range strike just four minutes later.

Threatened, South Korea started to create chances of their own, taking advantage of their pace down the flanks. In the 57th minute, Kim Hwan-moon headed over the crossbar and just three minutes later Haziq took the full force of Keun-ho's shot in his face but did enough to keep the ball out.

With the clock ticking down, Ong rolled the dice by introducing N. Thanabalan and Hadi Fayyah for Akif and Akhyar Rashid respectively. The change worked wonders and Malaysia quickly found themselves back level.

In the 67th minute, Safawi received the ball on the right hand side with time to look up and subsequently delivered an inch perfect cross for Thanabalan to head home Malaysia's equaliser.

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The goal shocked Korea into action and Haziq had to be on his toes for a double save first to stop Jang Yun-ho's header then getting up quickly to stop the dangerous Keun-ho.

However in the 85th minute, Korea regained the lead when Seung-gyu ran through Malaysia's tiring defence to round Haziq before calmly slotting in to make it 2-1.

Tried as they did, Malaysia just couldn't find another goal to take the tie into extra time. A magnificent journey at the tournament that ends at the hands of one of the tournament favourites.