January 15 – Jordan got their Asian Cup campaign off to a brilliant start with a 4-0 victory over a naive Malaysia to take top spot in Group E.
The West Asians were no match for Malaysia, who, in their fourth Asian Cup, came across as an inexperienced team. Pan-Gon Kim’s side simply couldn’t handle Jordan’s intensity but did itself no favours by sticking to a high line.
The heavy defeat leaves the Malaysians with little chance of progression to the last 16 with fixtures against Bahrain and powerhouse South Korea coming up.
Jordan effectively killed off the game in the first half scoring three goals in just over half an hour. Mahmoud Al Mardhi scored either side of a spot-kick by Musa Al-Taamari. The team’s attackers continuously got behind the high line that Malaysia’s backline maintained in what seemed a suicide mission. At the same time, the Jordanians had little problem in blunting their opponent’s attack.
It was never much of a contest and the West Asians took their foot off the pedal in the second half, allowing Malaysia more of the ball. But they were unable to create anything of note. Al-Taamari then added a fourth late on to wrap up a comfortable win and send Jordan top of Group E before they clash with South Korea.
Jordan were attacking the Malaysian back line right from the start and Al-Taamari found himself behind the defence a couple of times within the first five minutes. Al-Mardhi created the first clear-cut opportunity of the game in the eleventh minute when he fired in a low cross across the penalty area, that was just a touch away from being the opener. In the 12th minute, he made amendments when from a similar position, he found the top corner with a wonderful finish.
Minutes later, Yazan Al-Naimat was felled inside the box by Matthew Davies. The linesman initially flagged for an offside but the Video Assistant Referee suggested that referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed take a look at the pitch-side monitor. He duly reversed the linesman’s call and pointed to the spot. Al-Taamari did not make a mistake, firing past Malaysian keeper Syihan Hazmi.
Jordan thought they had a third in the 27th minute. Ali Olwan sprinted into the penalty area without being stopped and attempted to find Al-Naimat, who was seemingly fouled. The loose ball however fell to Al-Taamari, who smashed it home without waiting for the referee’s call. VAR, though, came to Malaysia’s rescue this time and ruled that an offside had been committed in the build-up.
Jordan, however, were not to be denied. Barely five minutes later, they had the third and once again, all of their front three were involved. Al-Taamari found Al-Naimat on the right, who centered it to Al Mardhi. The experienced winger did not make a mistake and got his second of the night. That was to be Al Mardhi’s last contribution of the game as his vigorous celebrations got him injured and substituted.
Malaysia finished the first half without a single shot on target. The closest they came to scoring was in injury time when Stuart Wilkin fired in a shot from 30 yards out that went narrowly wide.
After the pause, Jordan relented, dropping the pace, seemingly content with the three-goal cushion. It allowed Malaysia more time on the ball and they at last managed to provide a threat, but Jordan’s defenders were equal to the challenge.
Romel Morales came close to scoring in the 62nd minute, beating Jordan keeper Yazid Abu Layla with a lob, but Yazan Al-Arab was on hand to prevent the ball from trickling in. Then, in the 81st minute, Paulo Josué found himself with only the keeper to beat after an error at the back, but Abu Layla managed to parry his shot away.
There was still time for Jordan to add a fourth, and once again, it was Malaysia’s high backline that was breached with ease. Al-Taamari found himself behind the defence in the 85th minute and lobbed the keeper from outside the box to complete the rout.
Jordan will hope to take this form into their next match against South Korea on January 20, while Malaysia face the tough task of staging a recovery against Bahrain.
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