The win revives Bahrain’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stage, with the West Asian side to face Jordan on Thursday while the defeat ends Malaysia’s hopes, with the Southeast Asian side to conclude their campaign against Korea Republic.
Malaysia head coach Kim Pan-gon rang in the changes, with Dominic Tan and Shahrul Saad in a revamped defensive line-up with Corbin Ong and Mattew Davies on the flanks and they withstood Bahrain’s early pressure.
Despite Bahrain starting on the front foot, it was Malaysia who had the first look at goal in the seventh minute when Corbin Ong ‘s long throw-in was deflected into the path of Dion Cools, who couldn’t get his shot on target.
Malaysia came close again shortly after when Faisal Halim weaved his way into the Bahraini box before relaying the pass to Paulo Josue who was dispossessed, with the ball then landing nicely for Arif Aiman, whose shot was saved by Ebrahim Lutfallah.
Malaysia grew in confidence and threatened again in the 20th minute with Josue finding space down the left flank to send a delightful cross to Arif, only for the Johor Darul Ta’zim midfielder to squander the opportunity.
Malaysia’s Davies tested Lutfallah seven minutes later from distance while at the other end, Madan waltzed his way inside the box before rattling the upright from an acute angle.
Bahrain almost took the lead in the 31st minute through Komail Al Aswad when he surged into the box and managed to slip the ball past goalkeeper Syihan Hazmi, only for Dominic to scramble the ball off the line as the score remained 0-0 going into the break.
Bahrain started the second half with the same intensity as they did the first but Abdullah Al Hashash, Al Aswad and Madan all saw their attempts go to waste.
Abdulla Yusuf Helal then squandered his chance to give Bahrain the lead in the 56th minute when he angled his headed attempt just wide off Mohamed Adel’s cross from the right, before Yusuf Helal was denied again after seeing his shot blocked just after the hour mark.
Both sides could have scored as the match entered the closing minutes with Davies unlucky with his volleyed effort off substitute Akhyar Rashid’s cross while Ali Hasan Isa shot his effort straight at the Malaysian custodian after he broke clear of the Malaysian defence.
Bahrain’s persistence finally paid off when Madan struck with the outside of his left foot in the fifth minute of added time after Malaysia failed to clear a corner.
BY NADEEM FAISAL BAIGA