A penalty converted by Bahrain substitute Abdulla Yusuf Helal towards the end of the second Group E qualifier for the Asian Cup was enough to sink all hopes of a Malaysian upset as the hosts went down 2-1 in Bukit Jalil.
Helal’s penalty in the 81st minute was awarded after Malaysian keeper Farizal Marlias brought down Ali Jaafar Madan in the penalty box.
Naturalised player Mohamadou Sumareh had earlier put Malaysia ahead in the 55th minute only for Bahrain’s Ali Abdula Haram to equalise two minutes later.
Playing in front of over 63,000 fans, Malaysia dominated the first half with a series of attacks that Bahrain did well to absorb.
The national team managed to threaten the visitors as early as the fifth minute with a long ball by Khuzaimi Piee which was delivered right to Junior Eldstal but quick thinking by Bahrain keeper Sayed Abbas saved the visiting team the blushes.
Undeterred, Malaysia continued to attack, with Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Darren Lok and Junior all creating chances to put Malaysia ahead in the first 15 minutes but Abbas stood firm to keep a clean sheet.
Winger Akhyar Rashid then came close to scoring in the 31st minute after beating the offside trap from a Syamer Kutty Abba pass, only to see his shot blocked by Abbas.
Both teams started the second half aggressively, with Bahrain’s Komail Hasan Alaswad sending a long blistering shot testing Farizal in the 46th minute.
Then in the 55th minute, Mohamadou managed to put Malaysia ahead by tapping in a cross from Khuzaimi.
Stung into action by the goal, Bahrain equalised two minutes later through an Ali Abdula Haram goal courtesy of a cross from the right.
With the match locked 1-1, both teams redoubled their attacks with several substitutions but were unable to create any opportunity to get ahead until the ill-timed foul that led to the penalty for the visitors.
Bahrain’s win sends them top of Group E with six points, with Malaysia and Turkmenistan both on three points in second and third.
Bangladesh are last without a single point.
Malaysia must beat Bangladesh in the last match at the National Stadium on Tuesday to keep their Asian Cup dream alive.