Shah Alam: Khyril Muhymeen came off the bench to head in a later winner as Malaysia revived their hope of qualifying for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Yemen at the Shah Alam Stadium on Friday.
The visitors took an early lead in the Group D match after a fine solo effort by Aiman Al Hagri but Azammuddin Akil put the sides back on level terms before the interval with a tap-in.
Norshahrul Idlan missed a number of chances to put the hosts in front but with just 10 minutes left, his cross from the right found an unmarked Khyril, who glanced the ball into the Yemen net to give the home side all three points.
Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal was a relieved man after watching his side pick up their first points in Group D following a 2-0 loss to Qatar in their opening game last month.
“It was not an easy match,” said Rajagobal. “We could have settled earlier but we missed few sitters and then fell behind.
“We have to be more aggressive in front of goal. But anyhow I am happy with the fighting spirit my boys showed and proud they kept pushing despite being a goal down.”
Malaysia were looking to end a run of four consecutive losses and they began the game brightly only to fall behind to a fine individual goal by Al Hagri in the 13th minute.
The 21-year-old, who plays for Bahraini side Al Najmah, surged past the challenge of two defenders on the left flank before he curled a superb shot from the top corner of the box that gave goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi no chance.
It took a while for the Malaysians to recover from the shock of conceding but they got back into the match through Azammuddin in the 26th minute.
Mahalli’s low cross from the right found Amri Yahyah who was tackled by Yemen defender Mohammed Omar before he could get a shot away. However, the ball broke to the far post where an unattended Azammudin had the simple task of tapping it into the net.
The home side had much of the play during the latter stages of the opening half but they were unable to add a second goal before the break as Norshahrul squandered a couple of good openings.
Yemen could have regained the lead in the second half when substitute Mudir Abdurabu got round the back of the Malaysian defence to reach a long ball but stabbed his shot over the crossbar. Al Hagri then made a strong run up the middle, outpacing Asraruddin Putra Omar before seeing his shot stopped by Khairul Fahmi.
Malaysia created a number of good chances only for Norshahrul to be continually denied by Salem Abdullah.
But the Malaysia forward would have the final laugh with 10 minutes left when he received the ball on the right flank and cut back inside a defender before floating in an inviting cross with his left foot which picked out Khyril, who escaped the attentions of his marker to head in the winning goal.
With the win, Malaysia moved up to three points in Group D while Yemen remained in last place without any points so far.
Yemen coach Tom Saintfiet was left to rue his team’s failure to make the most of their early opportunities to add to their lead.
“I am disapointed with the result,” said the Belgian. “We could have doubled our advantage just after taking the lead but we didn’t do it.
“We could have got a point towards the end but my players were not lethal in front of goal.”