Malaysia ended their AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign on a positive note after beating Yemen 2-1 in their final Group D encounter on Wednesday.
Harimau Malaya got off to a horror start at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium when they had Amirizdwan Taj Tajuddin sent off after nine minutes for a last-man foul on Saddam Hussein inside the area, but they were spared further punishment as Wahid Al Khyat’s tame penalty was saved by Khairul Fahmi.
And in the 16th minute, the visitors took the lead opposition keeper Saoud Al Sawedi could only fumble Hafiz Kamal’s freekick back off his bar, allowing Amri Yahyah to race in and head home the rebound.
Nonetheless, Yemen did make the most of their numerical advantage as they equalised a minute before the hour mark; Sadam and Ala Mohammed Abdullah Al Sasi combining well to release Mohammed Al Sarori, who made no mistake in firing past Fahmi.
But 13 minutes from time, Malaysia went on to claim the victory after substitute Ahmad Fakri Saarani improvised well and stuck out a foot to meet Nazrin Nawi’s freekick, getting just enough on the ball to direct it into the bottom corner.
The win also meant Ong Kim Swee was victorious in his first competitive game as caretaker coach of Harimau Malaya, and ensured they were the best performing Southeast Asian side.
Over in Group B, Thailand finished pointless after being handed a heavy 5-2 defeat to Lebanon at the Rajamangala Stadium.
Mohammed Ghaddar capitalised on some slack marking to head home the opener from a corner after just two minutes, before Hassan Maatouk added a second in the 19th minute.
Teeratep Winothai did pull one back for Thailand from the spot four minutes later after Teerasil Dangda had been brought down inside the area, only for Ali Saad to restore the visitors’ two-goal lead on the stroke of halftime.
A minute after the restart, Maatouk doubled his tally for the evening and it was 5-1 three minutes after the hour mark when Roda Antar got in on the act.
Adisak Kraisorn did grab a second for the War Elephants in the 76th minute to add some respectability to the scoreline, but it was a fitting end to what has been a disappointing campaign from the Thais.
Likewise, Singapore were outplayed at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex as they fell to a 3-1 loss at the hands of Group A winners Oman.
Amad Al-Hosni fired home on the rebound to hand the hosts a 19th-minute lead, before Qasim Said made it 2-0 six minutes after the restart; his low shot taking a wicked deflection off Afiq Yunos and rolling past Hassan Sunny.
The contest was all but ended in the 69th minute after Sami Al-Hasani weighed in with a third from close range, although the Lions did grab a consolation nine minutes later when captain Shahril Ishak raced onto Zulfahmi Arifin’s excellent through-ball and coolly finished past Ali Al-Habsi.
Although they ended their campaign bottom of Group C, Vietnam were able to restore some pride as they claimed their first points with a 3-1 triumph over Hong Kong at the My Dinh National Stadium.
After Huynh Quoc Anh had handed them the lead in the 23rd minute, Nguyen Anh Duc struck eight minutes after the hour mark to put the hosts firmly in control of the tie.
Lam Ka Wai managed to pull one back for Hong Kong in the 81st minute but any hopes they had of mustering a fightback was ended two minutes later; Nguyen Trong Hoang netting Vietnam’s third goal.
The winning margin could have been even greater after Nhung chien binh do were awarded a penalty four minutes from time, but Nguyen Van Bien was unable to convert from 12 yards.
Finally in Group D, Indonesia put up a plucky display but were ultimately beaten 1-0 by Saudi Arabia at the Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium; the only goal of the game coming two minutes from time via a Fahad Al Muwallad strike.
Wednesday’s 2015 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying Results
Oman 3-1 Singapore
Jordan 2-1 Syria
Thailand 2-5 Lebanon
Iraq 3-1 China
Saudi Arabia 1-0 Indonesia
Yemen 1-2 Malaysia
Qatar 0-0 Bahrain
Uzbekistan 1-1 United Arab Emirates
Vietnam 3-1 Hong Kong