Two stunning goals by Safawi Rasid helped Malaysia beat arch-rivals Indonesia 2-0 in a Group G match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.
As leading striker Syafiq Ahmad and defender Mathew Davies had to miss the match after collecting two yellow cards, Mohamadou Sumareh was given the role of central striker, while Safawi and Akhyar Rashid were playing as right and left wingers respectively.
The match was closely contested from the first whistle with both teams in attacking mode, with the Garuda threatening first when Febri Hariyadi attempted a long shot that sailed over the crossbar in the sixth minute.
Febri was then presented with another scoring chance in a one-on-one with Khairulazhan Khalid in the 20th minute, which saw the Malaysia goalkeeper getting injured while saving the dangerous shot.
Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe then brought in Farizal Marlias to replace the injured Khairulazhan.
The Harimau Malaya finally broke the deadlock through a free-kick taken by Safawi in the 29th minute which sailed into the left corner past goalkeeper Muhammad Ridho, sending the home crowd wild with cheers.
Malaysia had a few opportunities to increase their lead but Syamer Kutty Abba’s shot off a pass from Norshahrul Idlan Talaha in the 64th minute was a bit too high, while Brendan Gan’s attempt four minutes later was pushed out by Muhammad Ridho.
Safawi then rocked the stadium once again when he let fly a powerful shot from the left side of the goalmouth which beat Muhammad Ridho.
Indonesia had a golden chance to narrow the gap when they were awarded a penalty after Farizal brought down Febri inside the penalty area in the 82nd minute.
However, the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant save to deny Indonesia’s Nigerian-born striker Osas Marvellous.
Safawi, who was named the best player of the match for his sterling performance, had two opportunities to bag a hat-trick, but his free-kick in the 84th minute and a long shot two minutes later were both off target.
In another Group G match, Vietnam and Thailand played to a goalless draw in Hanoi, enabling Malaysia, who now have nine points after five matches in the qualifiers, to overtake the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Thailand for the second spot, behind Vietnam who have 11 points.
Thailand are third with eight points, followed by the UAE with six points from four matches, while Indonesia are at the bottom of Group G without any point after five matches.
Meanwhile, there was a minor commotion involving fans of both teams after the match ended.
A Bernama check outside the National Stadium showed that some fans were throwing bottles, traffic cones and firecrackers at rival supporters.
Federal Reserve Unit personnel quickly brought the situation under control and Indonesian fans were also escorted out of the stadium in batches by police.
(Picture: Football Association of Malaysia)
Wed Nov 20 2019
Ballon d'Or: Pedri credits Messi for improvement after winning Kopa Trophy
Barcelona and Spain midfielder Pedri was crowned the best player under the age of 21 on Monday and he praised Lionel Messi's influence.
Inter's Marotta dismisses interest in Fiorentina star Vlahovic
Inter's Giuseppe Marotta was asked about reports linking the Serie A champions with Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.
Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi unsure if his record haul can be beaten after seventh crown
Lionel Messi reflected on his latest Ballon d'Or honour in Paris.
Knicks remove struggling Kemba Walker from rotation
Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks have decided to move away from Kemba Walker in favour of Alec Burks.
Curry, Paul lock horns again as Warriors and Suns meet in historic matchup
History will be made regardless of the result when the Warriors face the Suns, with Stephen Curry and Chris Paul set to renew their rivalry.
Woods hoping for part-time return to golf but rules out permanent comeback
Tiger Woods suffered serious injuries to his right leg in a car crash but is now eyeing a part-time return to professional golf.
Ballon d'Or: Who won what at the 2021 awards
Lionel Messi won the 2021 Men's Ballon d'Or, but a number of other prizes were also handed out at the prestigious awards ceremony.
Ballon d'Or: Messi wants to see Lewandowski rewarded for 2020 exploits
Lionel Messi won a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or but says runner-up Robert Lewandowski deserved to win last year's cancelled edition.
Ballon d'Or: Ronaldo finishes sixth as Messi wins historic seventh award
Cristiano Ronaldo had not finished outside the top three of the Ballon d'Or rankings since 2010, but came only sixth this year.
Ballon d'Or: How Messi pipped Lewandowski to 2021 award
It is a seventh Ballon d'Or for Lionel Messi, and Stats Perform has taken a look at how the Argentine beat Robert Lewandowski to the award.