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2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, AFC Asian Cup Qualifying - Group Stage
  • Mahalli bin Jasuli (43')
  • Rabih Ataya (80', 90')

Malaysia blow lead to lose to Lebanon in 2019 Asian Cup qualifier

A new-look Malaysia conceded an added-time goal from Lebanon's Rabih Ataya to succumb to a 2-1 defeat in 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying on Tuesday night.

The Zob Ahan winger had earlier scored through another well-taken effort in the 79th minute to cancel out Mahali Jasuli's first-half effort. The win sees Lebanon top the group on six points, while Malaysia sit bottom of the group with a game in hand.

Playing at Larkin Stadium, home of Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim, hopes were high of a new dawn in Malaysian football.

But the match got off to a sluggish start in front of a sparsely filled stadium, with fans staying away due to the late kick off on a weekday. Lebanon forward Hassan Ali ballooned a free kick early on before Safiq Rahim hit a set-piece directly into the wall.

The visitors had a penalty appeal turned down after Hassan Maatouk fell in the box, but referee Jameel Juma waved away their meek protests.

Maatouk recovered from that decision to force a flying, one-handed save from Khairul Azhan Khalid in the 35th minute to wake up Nelo Vingada's men.

The hosts, who had been content to pack numbers behind the ball, should have taken the lead shortly after that through Syazwan Zainon.

But the Kedah winger, having received an accurate side-rule pass from Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, steered an effort centimetres wide off Mehdi Khalil's goal.

Malaysia did not have to wait long to open the scoring, and it came courtesy of a gift from Mehdi.

Syazwan was again involved, threading a pass for Hazwan that Mehdi anticipated to catch in the nick of time.

But the ball somehow evaded his clutches and landed at a surprised Mahalli, who converted the chance from close range to give Malaysia a half-time lead.

Lebanon started the second half strongly. Khairul Azhan had to be a full stretch to tip an effort in a crowded penalty area to preserve his side's slender lead.

Miodrag Radulovic's men were clearly missing the services of their in-form hit man Mohammed Ghaddar, who requested to be dropped for this match.

Substitute Hilal Alhelwe thought he had made the breakthrough after 65 minutes. But he saw his header land on the roof the net, with Khairul Azhan back pedalling.

The Malaysian custodian was staking claim as one of the best men on the pitch with another excellent one-handed save to keep out Mohamad Haidar's effort that was heading for the bottom corner.

Lebanon would eventually get their equaliser 10 minutes from time through Ataya.

The winger received a short free-kick pass, cut inside Malaysia's substitute Amri Yahyah to bend an inswinging effort into the top corner.

Amri would get an immediate chance to atone for his earlier foul that led to the set-piece. But the veteran forward's shot just cleared the bar after Malaysia strung together a quick counter-attack.

But Lebanon sensed their counterparts were tiring out in the dying stages. They scored the winner through Ataya, who slotted past Khairul Azhan in the second minute of added time.

The other match in Group B saw Hong Kong hold North Korea to a 1-1 draw.

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