Asian Cup Qualifiers: Lebanon End Group B Campaign in Style

Published March 27th, 2018 - 10:24 GMT
Photo: The AFC
Photo: The AFC

A last-gasp winner by Hilal Al Helwe saw Lebanon round off their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Group B qualifying campaign with a 2-1 victory over bottom side Malaysia at Sports City Stadium on Tuesday.

Having already secured top spot in the standings, the West Asians went in front inside 20 minutes when captain Hassan Maatouk converted from the spot after he was brought down in the box.

Malaysia levelled in the final 20 minutes through Syafiq Ahmad but the Southeast Asians were denied what would have been only their second point of the campaign when Al Helwe volleyed home in the fourth minute of stoppage time to make it five wins from six for Lebanon.

With first and last place in Group B already decided, there was only pride to play for in the Lebanese capital, and it was the table-toppers who seized the early initiative.

Maatouk, who had netted in four of the five group stage games prior to Tuesday, was fouled inside the penalty area by Malaysia defender Matthew Davies in the 18th minute, before dusting himself down to dispatch the ensuing penalty.

The Malaysians put on a better showing in the second half, but almost went two down when Rabih Ataya struck the crossbar just before the hour.

Malaysia then levelled proceedings in the 72nd minute when Nazmi Faiz’s corner was headed home by Syafiq as the Southeast Asians threatened a shock result.

But just as it seemed Tan Cheng Hoe’s team were going to return east with a memorable point, Lebanon repeated what they did in the reverse fixture in Johor Bahru last June and scored in the 94th minute.

Substitute Mohamad Haidar delivered a ball into the area that caused confusion among the Malaysian defence and Al Helwe was on hand to volley in the decisive goal as Lebanon took all three points at the death.

Source: The AFC

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