Malaysia defeated Bangladesh 4-1

Malaysia booked their place in the AFC Asian Cup 2023™ after unleashing their attacking prowess against Bangladesh in a 4-1 win in their final Qualifiers Group E match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Tuesday.

The result saw them cement their second place finish in the group to return to the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since co-hosting in 2007, while Bangladesh remained bottom on no points as Kim Pan-goon’s Malaysia did enough to ensure they will finish as one of the five best runners-up to advance.

The group hosts took the initiative from the off and had the game played almost exclusively inside the Bangladesh half in the first 10 minutes, with Syafiq Ahmad hitting the far post with a low drive that Anisur Rahman could not reach to save.

A few minutes later, Safawi Rasid attempted an audacious bicycle kick under pressure to get on the end of Faisal Halim’s cross, and despite being under pressure he did have the ball scrape the roof of the net.

Atiqur Rahman conceded a penalty when he attempted to receive a heavy pass which Safawi had tried to intercept, with the Johor Darul Ta’azim forward comfortably placing it down the right with Rahman going the right way but not able to save.

Safawi could have doubled the lead for his country just five minutes later, when a penalty area scramble following a corner saw a high ball fall for his head at point-blank range, but a combination of a weak header and a well positioned Rahman conspired to produce an unlikely save.

Very much against the run of play, Bangladesh managed to equalise when Rakib Hossein headed a long throw into Mohammed Ibrahim’s path, with the latter placing a pinpoint header himself past Ahmed Syihan to make the score 1-1.

Incredibly, Malaysia took the lead once more with eight minutes to go before half time when the Bangladesh defence failed to clear a corner, with the second ball falling to Dion Cools who smashed home from 10 yards out to go 2-1 in front.

Syafiq got his country’s third with a beautiful dinked header from Faisal’s cross from deep, a set-piece routine that worked to maximum effect as soon as the second half kicked off.

Substitutes Akhyar Rashid and Darren Lok immediately made an impact on proceedings when they combined seamlessly for Malaysia’s fourth of the night, with Akhyar putting a low ball into the six yard box for Lok to tap in from close range as Malaysia sealed a return to the AFC Asian Cup on merit for the first time since the 1980 edition.

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