Nine-man Malaysia remained bottom of Group B in 2019 Asian Cup qualifying after managing only a 1-1 draw with Hong Kong in front of their home fans at Hang Jebat Stadium on Tuesday night.
In a dramatic ending to a entertaining match, Australian referee Chris Beath had to be escorted off the field after the match after he sent off Malaysian defenders Rizal Ghazali and Aidil Zafuan in added time.
But Malaysia's blushes were spared when goalkeeper Hafizul Hakim saved the resulting penalty from Hong Kong forward Alessandro Ferreira Leonardo to prevent a fourth consecutive defeat for new Portuguese coach Nelo Vingada.
Vingada went for a 4-2-3-1 formation, dropping two anchormen in Amirulhadi Zainal and the Spanish-born Kiko Insa. Darren Lok led a front three, with Kedah duo Syazwan Zainon and Baddrol Bakhtiar in support.
Hong Kong coach Kim Pangon selected seven naturalised players, including strikers Leonardo and Alexander Oluwatayo.
After absorbing early pressure, Malaysia fashioned a first decent chance in the ninth minute, but Lok fluffed his effort in the six-yard box.
It was the visitors' turn to have a sight on goal, but Rizal Ghazali was quick to snuff out the danger with a full stretch tackle just as Leonardo was about to pull the trigger.
Midway through the first half, Safiq Rahim came centimetres from giving Malaysia the lead from free kick just outside the box.
The captain curling's effort, however, just whistled past Yapp Hung Fai's post.
Hafizul was called into action on the half-hour mark with a low save to deny Oluwatayo after his giveaway from a goal kick almost presented the Nigeria-born attacker with the opener.
Four minutes later, Lok again was put through on goal, but Yapp was equal from to his effort with a strong one handed save.
The Hong Kong goal continued to lead a charmed life as Amirulhadi Zainal skied another glorious chance from close range.
Oluwatayo had a header saved by Hafizul on the goal line in the last action of an entertaining first half.
Five minutes after the break, Baddrol Bakthiar wasted a glorious chances to put the hosts ahead after he horribly sliced Syazwan Zainon' sumptuous curling cross wide with only the keeper to beat.
That miss came back to bite Malaysia just three minutes later. Hong Kong took the lead through Leonardo, who swept home Jaimes McKee's cutback into the top corner.
Vingada's men, however, responded almost immediately with the equaliser through Syazwan in the 56th minute.
The Kedah winger benefited greatly after Safiq's shot had been deflected into his path to bury past Yapp from a tight angle.
Vingada brought on Ahmad Hazwan Bakri for Amirulhadi on the hour mark to take the game to the visitors, whose threat came mainly from Leonardo and Oluwatayo.
Hazwan's Johor Darul Ta'zim teammate Lok came close again, rifling another shot that just wide as the Malaysian pressure intensified.
But Malaysia were left hanging on after Beath sent off Rizal and Aidil. The latter was given his marching orders for shoving the Australian official.
Hafizul saved Leonardo's spot kick, but the unsavoury scenes at the end which also saw Vingada angrily trying to confront the referee could result in a sanction from the Asian Football Confederation.
Malaysia: Hafizul Hakim (GK), Shahrom Kalam, Amirulhadi Zainal (Ahmad Hazwan Bakri 61'), Baddrol Bakhtiar, Safiq Rahim (C), Darren Lok, Rizal Ghazali, Syazwan Zainon (Wan Zack Haikal 84'), Aidil Zafuan, Kiko Insa, Nazirul Naim
Hong Kong: Yapp Hung Fai (GK) (C), Baise Festus, Helio Jose De Souza, Jean Jacques Kilama, Huang Yang (Dos Santos Filho 86') , Chan Siu Ki Wong Wai 63'), Alessandro Ferreira Leonardo,Lam Ka Wai, Alexander Oluwatayo, Jack Sealy, Jaimes McKee