Faizal Saari scored twice as hosts Malaysia rallied to stun defending champions Pakistan 4-2 in the opening match of the fourth Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament in the Kuantan Hockey Stadium.
Saari converted a penalty stroke in the 37th minute and capitalised on a penalty corner rebound in the dying seconds.
Two other Malaysian goals -– from Firhan Ansari and Shahril Saabah -– also came off penalty corner rebounds that left the Pakistan defence shattered.
Both goals for Pakistan, winners of the last two editions of Asian Champions Trophy, were scored by penalty corner strikes from Muhammad Aleem Bilal.
Malaysia took the initial lead in the 13th minute of play from their first penalty corner.
Razie Rahim’s penalty corner drive was blocked by Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt, but the rebound went to Firhan Ansari who slotted the ball into the boards.
Pakistan equalised five minutes later as Bilal stunned the Malaysian goalkeeper with a stining shot.
Bilal was on target again four minutes after half-time with a firm drive to put Pakistan in the lead.
Pakistan enjoyed the lead until the 37th minute when the game had to be stopped due to heavy showers. Play resumed after a 20-minute break and Malaysia mounted a raid into the Pakistan circle within a minute.
Malaysia’s raid earned them a penalty stroke, but only after they sought a TV referral which showed that the Pakistani goalkeeper had obstructed striker Aiman Nik Rosemi in the goalmouth. The stroke was duly converted by Saari to draw 2-2 parity.
Going into an all-out attack, Malaysia forced two successive penalty corners in the 41st minute and Saabah capitalised on a rebound from the custodian to put Malaysia into the lead.
Saari came into the scoring act again in the last minute when Pakistan conceded a penalty corner through a rough tackle on their right flank. Pakistan goalkeeper Butt blocked the penalty corner shot, but Saari was not to be denied on the rebound.
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