Malaysia came up with a spirited performance to edge past defending champions South Korea 1-0 during their round-robin match of the 2023 Asian Champions Trophy Hockey here on Wednesday.
Abu Kamal Azrai scored the winner in a contest that was academic in nature with both countries having already sealed semi-final berth.
The first quarter was a slow start from both sides, while Malaysia won the tie's opening penalty corner, which was saved by the Korean goalkeeper.
After a chance each, there was nothing to separate the two teams at the end of the first quarter in which Malaysian skipper Marhan Jalil and Amirul Azahar were warned with green-cards.
In the 22nd minute, an unmarked Abu Kamal Azrai slapped the ball home to give the Malaysians the lead.
Malaysia kept its slender lead going into half-time.
After the change of ends, Malaysia continued to be the better side in terms of number of raids into the opposition's defensive third.
However, the Korean defence managed to hold out till the end of the quarter. While Azahar saw a yellow card in this quarter, Korean captain Manjae Jung saw a green.
The final quarter witnessed the Malaysians switching to a defensive mode, while the Koreans were dominating with possession.
However, the Koreans failed to get past the sturdy Malaysian defence. A short corner was not enough to draw them on level terms, whereas a PC appeal through video referral was also rejected by the TV umpire.
Eventually, it was a 1-0 triumph for Malaysia, which has risen to the table-top ahead of the India-Pakistan meet.
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