Ipoh: Malaysia pumped in two early goals in the second half to pip defending champions New Zealand 2-1 and stay in hunt for a final berth in the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament, here on Sunday.
For the winners, overnight hero Chua Boon Huat did the star turn with an opportunistic goal, scooping it high into the net which flummoxed the goalkeeper Devon Manchester. It was brilliant move that started on the left flank with Md Jalil Marhan, who did the spade work and dribbled past on the goalline before releasing a minus pass into the circle.
Boon Huat pulled the ball out from a crowded defence and chipped into the net that left the goalkeeper with no chance. That 41st minute strike was complimented by another piece of opportunism from the stick of Md Shahrun Nabil three minutes later.
It was a long ball into the circle and Tengku Ahmad Tajudin deflected from top of the circle and the ball caressed a defender's stick before settling in the goal. The twin strikes, though against the run of play, put the Kiwis on the back foot. Kiwis, however, came back with a late penalty corner goal in the 68th minute when Shay Neal deflected in an indirect variation from the right side to reduce the margin. But it was too little, too late.
The hosts defence was well served by the energetic trio of Mohd Jalil Muhammad Marhan, Rahim Muhammed Razie and Abdul Mutalib Md Sukri which gave a chance for their forwards to mount repeated attacks in the second half and stay on course for their second win. Malaysia will take on Australia, while New Zealand will take on Korea on 12th after a day of rest on Monday.