With all the furore in the Yemeni camp after four of their players were reported to have sneaked out of their accommodation for a night out the night before the match, it was reasonable for the Malaysia fans to expect them to be somewhat out-of-sorts.
But it was Yemen who surprisingly opened the account when Al-Hagri pounced on a loose possession by the Malaysian defence before curling the ball over the Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi in the 11th minute to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
The goal put pressure on Malaysia who almost conceded another goal a few minutes later from a Yemeni counter attack, and Mahali Jasuli had to resort to a bookable foul to stop yet another attack in the 18th minute.
However Mahali redeemed himself in the 26th minute when his determined run down the right flank caused commotion in the Yemeni penalty box.
This resulted in one of the Yemeni defence inadvertently knocking the ball into the path of Azamudin Akil who did not miss from five yards.
The rather fortuitous goal calmed the nerves of the Tigers and Mahali himself nearly added their second from his trademark run in the 30th minute, but his attempt was deflected away.
The match then evened out, save for a few chances now and then, including yet another attempt by Norshahrul in the 41st minute, and a header from the ensuing corner kick.
The cautious flow of the match carried over into the second half with both teams looking rather hesitant to fully commit to attacking, opting instead for slow build-ups.
In the 58th minute Mat-yo spurned a glorious chance when he failed to properly make contact with a cross from the right to put it past the goalkeeper.
The following corner resulted in a header which narrowly flew over the goalpost.
Malaysia were almost caught against the run of play again two minutes later when a long pass down the Yemeni right flank found a Yemeni forward who was under minimal marking from Azamudin, who then chipped the ball over Khairul Fahmi, but also just slightly over the bar.
In the 67th minute, Amri Yahyah missed a chance to put Malaysia in front by pouncing on a goalkeeping error by the Yemeni goalkeeper Salem Awad, and he was substituted out for Khyril Muhymeen not long after.
Malaysia were more desperate after that, and Norshahrul could not have chosen a worse time to miss two sitters in quick succession.
But he then made amends by delivering a cross for Khyril to head home to send cheers in the stands, and make it 2-1 to the home team.
The scoreline remained until the final whistle and Malaysia gained three precious points to keep their qualification hopes alive.
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