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Hong Kong: Hosts Hong Kong strengthened their hopes of qualifying for the Finals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates as Kim Pan-gon’s side handed 10-man Malaysia a 2-0 defeat at Hong Kong Stadium on Tuesday.

A goal in each half from Jordi Tarres and Jaimes McKee secured all three points for Hong Kong as they moved on to five points from their first four games in Group B.

Malaysia captain Safiq Rahim was sent off for a poor challenge on Hong Kong’s Daniel Rodriguez five minutes before the break and the midfielder’s expulsion was to prove the turning point in the game.

While Hong Kong had been on top throughout the opening exchanges, they had struggled to impose their superiority on Nelo Vingada’s winless side, with Tarres going closest to breaking the deadlock just after the half-hour mark.

The Barcelona-born midfielder unleashed a fine drive from distance but, while it beat goalkeeper Hafizuk Hakim, the shot clipped the outside of the frame of the goal.

Rahim’s sending off, however, gave the already dominant Hong Kong the upper hand and, with just a minute remaining in the half, Tarres put his side in front, leaping highest to head home Wong Wai’s free-kick from the right.

Four minutes after the restart, Hong Kong doubled their lead when the home team had more joy down the right side as Xu Deshuai had the time to cross into the centre and McKee headed in after appearing unmarked between two defenders.

The result leaves Malaysia rooted to the bottom of the group with just one point from three games and opportunities are running out for Vingada and his team to qualify for their first Asian Cup Finals since 2007.

Photos: The Hong Kong Football Association Ltd