Qualifiers - Group J: China PR edge spirited Malaysia for top spot
Shah Alam: China PR came from behind twice to snatch a 2-2 draw against Malaysia and seal top spot in Group J of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 Qualifiers at the Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday.
Malaysia 2-2 China PR
China PR and Malaysia went into the match having won their earlier matches but it was the hosts, with 25,000 fans backing them, who held the upperhand in the opening minutes.
Hadi Fayyadh led the charge for Malaysia as he caused problems for China PR. The Fagiano Okayama forward made promising runs against the East Asians who were, however, quick to deal with the threat.
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Malaysia were rewarded for their persistence when they went ahead in the 11th minute following Syahmi Safari’s inviting cross into the danger area which took a deflection of China PR’s Zhu Chenjie and settled in the net.
Akhyar Rashid almost doubled the lead in the 15th minute after his long-range effort just flew past the top corner.
2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers | Tuesday, 26 March 2019— FA Malaysia (@FAM_Malaysia) March 26, 2019
MALAYSIA 2-2 CHINA
Zhu Chenjie-OG 11' Danial Haqim Draman 55'; Zhang Yuning 16' Jiang Shenglong 84'#FAM #HarimauMalaya #AFCU23 pic.twitter.com/mL94ueGXQi
A relieved China PR equalised a minute later courtesy of Zhang Yuning who levelled proceedings with his header.
Malaysia gave China PR another scare at the half hour mark when Dinesh Rajasingam missed a sitter following a scramble inside the danger area.
Ong Kim Swee’s side continued to press but were unable to find the back of the net despite numerous opportunities as the score remained 1-1 at half-time.
Malaysia continued their pressing game at the start of the second half and broke the deadlock in the 55th minute after Daniel Haqim pounced on a mistake by China custodian Chen Wei for a simple tap-in.
Guus Hiddink’s charges pushed hard for the equaliser as they attacked in numbers but Malaysia goalkeeper Haziq Nadzli defended his line as he kept the East Asians at bay.
However, Haziq's resistance was finally beaten in the 84th minute following Jiang Shenglong’s headed equaliser as China PR sealed the draw which gave them top spot on goal difference and a place in the Finals.
Laos 3-2 Philippines
Laos came back from two goals down to defeat Philippines 3-2 and end their qualifying campaign on a positive note, while the Philippines were left to rue missed opportunities.
Philippines were the better side in the first half as they created problems for Laos at the back.
The Junior Azkals opened the proceedings through Javier Gayoso’s strike in the 11th minute before Gayoso added the second goal in the 33rd minute from the penalty spot to give the Philippines a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Laos were a completely different side in the second half as they overwhelmed the Philippines and finally broke their resistance in the 74th minute through Chitpasong Latthachack.
Laos scored the equaliser through Vannasone Douangmaity’s strike in the 88th minute before Bounphachan Bounkong snatched the winner in added time to seal an emphatic victory.
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