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Hilal El-Helwe scored a 93rd minute winner to hand Malaysia a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat in their last Asian Cup qualifying match.

Muhd Syafiq Ahmad headed in Nazmi Faiz’s corner kick in the 72th minute to cancel out Lebanon captain Hassan Maatouk’s first half opener as the visitors looks to hold out for a draw at the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut on Tuesday.

Hassan had earlier put the home side in front when he converted the spot kick in the 18th minute after he was brought down by Matthew Davis in the box.

Tan Cheng Hoe’s side then defended valiantly in the final quarter of the game and looked all set to snatch a morale-boosting draw from their more illustrious rivals but was denied by Hilal’s stoppage time strike.

Malaysia also lost 2-1 in the earlier fixture at the Larkin Stadium last June.

WIth the defeat, Malaysia ended their campaign with only a point to show following a 1-1 draw against Hong Kong in September last year.

Lebanon emerged the Group B champions with 16 points, five ahead of second-placed North Korea, who beat Hong Kong 2-0 at home in the other fixture. Hong Kong were third with five points.

It was nevertheless still a commendable result for the national team, who traveled to Beirut without a full-strength squad after Cheng Hoe omitted 12 Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) players a day after Malaysia drew 2-2 with Mongolia on March 22.

Ironically, Syafiq and Nazmi, the two JDT players that rejoined the squad having earlier being released, were both involved in Malaysia’s goals.

Malaysia who are now winless in 12 matches, welcome Bhutan in an international friendly on April 3.

star.com

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