Group D - Matchday Two: Malaysia 2-2 Tajikistan
Bekasi: Malaysia kept their slim AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 quarter-final hopes alive with a 2-2 Group D draw against Tajikistan at the Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium on Tuesday.
The Southeast Asians still stand a chance at reaching the last eight, but they will need to defeat China PR, and hope Tajikistan lose to Saudi Arabia on Friday if they are to stand a chance.
Malaysia led early through Hadi Fayyadh, before goals to Panshanbe Ehsoni and Daler Yodgorov put Tajikistan ahead, with Bojan Hodak's side sharing the spoils when Tajik defender Vahdat Hanonov turned Nabil Hakim Bokhari's second half free kick into his own net.
The match was marred by two late red cards, and a serious leg injury to Tajikistan's Ziyovuddin Fuzaylov which saw the player taken to the hospital.
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Malaysia took the lead on 11 minutes when Hadi Fayyadh exploited space behind the defence to latch onto Nik Akif's perfectly weighted pass, and steered the ball beyond the rapidly advancing Shohrukh Qirghizboev and make it 1-0.
The Central Asians recovered quickly to create a number of promising openings, then equalised from the penalty spot through Ehsoni after Muhammad Al Imran Halim clumsily dragged Sherddin Boboev down in the box in the 34th minute.
Tajikistan had enjoyed more than two-thirds of possession, and they went in search of further reward, with Manucher Safarov's searing long range effort in the 45th minute just one of their attempts at goal.
Malaysia looked as though they would survive until half-time, but their defence was exposed in the first minute of added time, when Daler Yodgorov arrived at the back post to finish off a sweeping move down the right flank, with Safarov providing the assist.
The loss of Nik Akif to injury early in the second half made Malaysia's task even more difficult, but they were right back in the contest when Bokhari's free kick ended up in the net via the boot of Tajikistan's Hanonov in the 55th minute.
Malaysian senior international Akhyar Rashid was introduced off the bench and created a gilt-edged attempt, but wasted chance for Nurfais Johari at the hour mark, then had claims for a penalty turned down eight minutes later as the Harimau Muda grew in stature.
Tajikistan suffered a blow in the 80th minute, when Ziyovuddin Fuzaylov suffered a horror injury after a heavy Bokhari tackle, which saw the Malaysian player sent off.
The match became a battle of 10 versus 10 when Tajikistan's Khuseyn Nurmatov was shown a straight red card for another reckless challenge, but neither side could find a late winner, leaving each side's quarter-final destiny to be decided on Friday.
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