Malaysia pulled off a thrilling comeback 3-2 win over Chile in a Pool C World Cup match here at the Birsa Munda International Stadium on Monday. The victory revived the Asian side’s hopes of progression into the knockouts.
It was a game of two halves with Chile dominating the opening two quarters before Malaysia found its rhythm in the second half. Chile was direct in its approach and came close to opening the scoring within the first 10 minutes when Raimundo Valenzuela’s swiped effort went narrowly wide.
The lead eventually came through Juan Amoroso’s powerful penalty corner in the 19th minute. Malaysia equalised through Razie Rahim’s successful penalty stroke after Shahril Saabah’s shot on goal was blocked by the foot of Andres Pizarro.
Chile, however, reclaimed the ascendancy three minutes later, when a deflection fell in the path of Martin Rodriguez, who reverse hit his finish to put his side ahead at the break.
Malaysia, which is ranked 12 places above its opponent, switched gears and started to impose its style. The Speedy Tigers moved the ball around with pace and started getting in between the defensive lines. The pressure was telling when the equaliser came in the 40th minute through Ashran Hamsani. A pass from the right side was deflected high and Hamsani smashed it into the net.
A minute later, Malaysia went ahead from a penalty corner. Injector Sumantri Norsyafiq pounced on a deflection from the drag-flicked effort and turned around to pull off a tomahawk effort past the ‘keeper.
Malaysia survived a couple of scares in the final quarter when it seemed like Chile had levelled through Franco Becerra, who cleverly flicked a powerful shot from outside the circle to wrong-foot the keeper. But a lengthy video referral overturned the goal as Becerra’s feet were outside the circle at the point of contact with the ball.
The win was secured for Malaysia just before the hooter went off when Hafizuddin Othman produced a save with his foot from a penalty corner.