Football: Safee's Brace Puts Malaysia In Driving Seat

27 Dec

Malaysia beat Indonesia 3-0 in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup final at Malaysia's Bukit Jalil Stadium on Sunday night.

Three goals – a brace from Safee Sali and another from Mohamad Ashari – without reply put Malaysia firmly in the driver's seat to win their first ever Asean tourney with the second leg still to be played in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Japanese referee Toma Masaaki hauled all 22 players off the pitch in the 54th minute with the Malaysian fans repeatedly shining laser lights into the eyes of Indonesian players, and it was only after the six-and-a-half-minute stoppage that Malaysia managed to find their way past the visitors' defence.

Safee scored in the 61st minute, after Indonesia's Maman Abdurachman's lack of concentration let Norshahrul Idlan steal the ball from the Indonesian byline to cut back for Safee to slot it home.

Ashari added a second just seven minutes later, as the Indonesian defence struggled to rise from their slumber.

Norshahrul was the provider again, taking the ball easily past three static Indonesian defenders before his right-wing cross fell to Ashari who finished with aplomb.

It was just a short five minutes before Indonesia were punished again, this time by Safee for his second of the night.

The Malaysian No 10 was given the freedom of the Indonesian penalty box, rising to head home Mahali Jasuli's peach of a cross into the net, as three white shirts stood stationary around him.

The victory exorcised ghosts of Malaysia's 5-1 thumping at the hands of a rampant Indonesia at Jakarta's Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in the group stages just 26 days ago, but Malaysia will have to return to the venue on Wednesday, a place known for its intimidating home support that will surely not take Malaysian fans' Bukit Jalil laser show lying down.

– TODAY /ls

Channel News Asia

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