03/05/2023 11:12 PM

PHNOM PENH, May 3 (Bernama) -- An inspired second-half substitution by coach E. Elavarasan paved the way for Malaysia to overcome a nervy start before scoring a comfortable 5-1 win over gutsy Laos in their opening Group B men’s football match of the 2023 SEA Games at the Prince Stadium, here, tonight.

The national Under-22 team got off to a dream start when Laos goalkeeper Solasak Thilavong failed to hold on to a powerful drive by Muhammad Aliff Izwan Yuslan and defender Muhammad Ubaidullah Shamsul Fazili slammed home the rebound in the fourth minute.

Undaunted, Laos, who are coached by Michael Weiss, fought back and nearly found the equaliser but national goalkeeper Sikh Izhan Nazrel Sikh Azman managed to save Chony Wenpaserth’s powerful strike in the 17th minute.

However, there was no stopping Laos from drawing level as Muhammad Ubaidullah went from hero to zero after scoring an own goal when he tried to keep out Phetdavanh Somsanid’s cross in the 21st minute.

Although Laos went on to dominate the proceedings, it was Malaysia who struck again. This time it was Laos defender Anantaza Siphongphan’s turn to score an own goal when he diverted a cross from Muhammad Safwan Mazlan into his own net in the 28th minute.

Laos came back after the break all fired up and continued to torment the Malaysian defence, forcing Elavarasan to make several changes to breathe new life into the team.

The coach brought in three midfielders - Muhammad Muslihuddin Atiq Mat Zaid, Muhammad Syahir Bashah and Muhammad Najmudin Akmal Kamal Akmal - and striker Fergus Tierney to freshen up his team.

It proved to be a masterstroke as Malaysia then extended their lead to 3-1 when Muhammad Syahir slotted home a cross in the 75th minute.

Fergus then had two gilt-edged chances to get his name on the scoresheet but could only hit the post and crossbar.

Malaysia had to wait until injury time to make it 5-1 through Muhammad Najmudin and another own goal by Phoutthavong Sangvilay.

Meanwhile, in another Group B match at the same venue this evening, Vietnam bagged their second straight win after taming Singapore 3-1 to lead the group with six points.

Malaysia and Thailand have three points each to be placed second and third while Singapore and Laos prop up the standings after failing to collect a single point in their first two matches.

Malaysia will take on Thailand in their second group match at the same venue on Saturday (May 6).


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