The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Malaysia beats Hong Kong 2-0

Posted: 09 Feb 2011 07:41 AM PST

SHAH ALAM: The Malaysian football team began the year on the right note when they beat Hong Kong 2-0 in a friendly match at the Shah Alam Stadium last night.

Skipper Safiq Rahim opened accounts in the 44th minute before Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal added the second in stoppage time.

The friendly was a warm-up match for the national team ahead of their preparations for the pre-World Cup campaign (Asian qualifiers) in June.

Coach K. Rajagopal started the match with nine players from the victorious Suzuki Cup squad, with centreback Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak and striker Ahmad Fakri Saarani making a return from long-term injuries.

The absence of nippy striker Norsharul Idlan Talaha from the starting line-up was sorely felt as the fans missed his trickery inside the boxand penetrative runs down the flanks.

With Hong Kong playing a defensive game, forwards Mohd Safee Sali and Fakri could have done with better support from their teammates.

Safee, who will be playing for Pelita Jaya FC in the Indonesia Super League next month, tested Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai in the 13th minute but his attempt, from outside the box, came off the keeper and was deflected off the post.

Just when the first half seemed to be heading for a draw, up popped Safiq with the opening goal.

The Malaysian skipper punished the Hong Kong defence when he stole the ball from defender Lo Kwan Yee at the bye-line, side stepped a defender and slotted it past Hung Fai in the 44th minute.

So defensive were the visitors that their first real look at goal only came in the 52nd minute when striker Ye Jia tested Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat with a low shot.

A minute later Norsharul was introduced into the game, replacing Fakri. He immediately injected the much needed pace and incisiveness that had been sorely lacking in Malaysia's attack.

Malaysia's push for a second goal paid off in stoppage time when Amirulhadi rounded goalkeeper Hung Fai before slotting the ball into the net for a deserving win in front of 5,000 fans.

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Kirilenko falls, Peng advances at Pattaya Open

Posted: 09 Feb 2011 05:28 AM PST

PATTAYA, Thailand (AP): Third-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia squandered three match points in losing to Kazakh qualifier Galina Voskoboeva 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the Pattaya Open on Wednesday.

Sixth-seeded Peng Shuai of China defeated Elena Baltacha of Britain 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 1 hour, 51 minutes, marking the third time in five years Peng made it into at least the quarterfinals in Pattaya.

She will face the winner between top-seeded Vera Zvonareva and local player Nungnadda Wannasuk.

Kirilenko led 6-1, 5-2 and served for the match at 5-4, 40-0 but let her nerves get the better of her. She built a 3-1 lead in the third set and failed again to capitalize on the opportunity.

It was the second premature exit from Pattaya for the Russian, who as the second seed in 2007 was knocked out in the first round.

"I wasn't in the match at all until I was down 3-0 in the second set," Voskoboeva said. "But I started to play better from then. When you are down match point at 4-5, 0-40 , you need luck as well. But I didn't think about that. I just played point by point."

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