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Malaysia edge Singapore 2-1 in gripping Sea Games encounter

SHAH ALAM: Substitutes Nor Azam Abdul Azih and N. Thanabalan scored a goal each in the second half as Malaysia bounced back to beat Singapore 2-1 in their Group A match of the Sea Games football competition at the Shah Alam Stadium on Wednesday.
The success also marked coach Ong Kim Swee's first win against Singapore as Malaysia's trainer in four Sea Games meetings since 2011.
Malaysia were slightly of the mark in the first half as Singapore took the lead through Amiruldin Nodin in the 37th minute.
The six changes that Kim Swee made to the team that defeated Brunei on Monday probably affected Malaysia's momentum in the first half.
Malaysia were creating chances but they showed a distinct lack of composure whenever Singapore attacked on the counter.
However, the poor pitch condition and Singapore's defensive strategy both made it tough for Malaysia.
Malaysia also hardly made any penetration from the middle as they depended mostly on their wing backs to pump balls into the Singapore box.
Striker Safawi Rasid had his atttempt saved by Singapore goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad in the ninth minute before Syahmi Safari executed an overhead kick that went over the crossbar seven minutes later.
It looked like the momentum was on Malaysia when they forced a third scoring chance, only for Adam Nor Azlin to hit his freekick straight to Singapore keeper Zharfan.
Singapore's moment of glory arrived when Syahmi lost possession in midfield in the 37th minute.
Amiruldin then latched onto a pass from the resulting mistake and curled his shot around Malaysia keeper Haziq Nadzli, which rattled off the inside of the left post before hitting the back of the net to give Singapore the lead.
In the first half of stoppage time, Malaysia earned a free kick but Safawi drove the ball against the Singapore crossbar before the referee blew the half-time whistle.
In the second half, Kim Swee brought on Thanabalan and Nor Azam for Syahmi and Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik.
Kim Swee's move added sting to Malaysia's attack as they dominated play, while Singapore defended in numbers.
After a series of chances, Malaysia finally made it count through Nor Azam, who picked up a pass at the edge of the penalty box and unleashed a powerful shot which sailed past Singapore keeper Zharfan in the 68th minute for the equaliser.
In the 74th minute, Thanabalan raced ahead to hit home a rebound into an empty net from close range after Nor Azam's initial shot deflected off a Singapore defender.
It was a great moment for Thanabalan as he had just returned from a knee injury.
Malaysia, who now have two wins, will play Myanmar on Monday at the same venue.
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