IPOH, Apr 13 (PTI): Malaysia posted their first win over Pakistan in three years when they hung on to an early lead to emerge 1-0 victorious in a league fixture of the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here today.
Malaysia rode on captain Razie Rahim's fourth-minute penalty corner conversion to register their first victory against Pakistan since they won 3-1 in the World League Semifinals at Johar Baharu (Malaysia).
That victory in the World League play-offs clinched Malaysia's qualification for the 2014 World Cup at the expense of four-time champions Pakistan, who missed their last chance to qualify and failed to make the elite tournament for the first time since its inception.
Malaysia's victory took them to eight points from five fixtures and kept alive their chances to clinch a medal, although yesterday's 2-2 draw against Canada virtually spiked their hopes of qualifying for the final.
The nippy Malaysians outpaced Pakistan, but occasionally invited trouble upon themselves. Overlapping quickly, they left plenty of gaps that provided Pakistan a leeway into the Malaysian circle.
Malaysia's defence hung on dearly to the lead even as Pakistan squandered half a dozen chances in the last quarter.
Laying seize on the Malaysian circle in the last 10 minutes, Pakistan could have benefitted from a few defensive errors, but the home team managed to weather out the storm.
Skipper Rahim's mistake in clearing the ball from inside the circle in the 51th minute could have cost Malaysia dear, but he made a desperate lunge to defend and suffered a painful blow on his hand.
Down to 10 players when Izad Jamaluddin was sent off for a deliberate foul, Malaysia should have tried to slow down the game, but they chose to go out looking for another goal and seemed to have played into Pakistan's hands.
Pakistan, however, failed to capitalise on the chances they created.
After five matches, Pakistan have just three points from their victory over Canada.
Meanwhile, world champions Australia extended their winning spree to five successive matches as they prevailed 3-1 over Japan.
Not playing full-press, Australia scored through Jamie Dwyer (17th and 36th minutes) and Blake Govers, but Japan shot back to reduce the margin through a penalty corner conversion by Kentro Fukuda (37th minute).