NAYPYIDAW - Indonesia beat Malaysia 4-3 on penalties in the first semi-final of the men's football competition at the SEA Games in Myanmar yesterday, avenging a 2011 final defeat by their arch-rivals.
Malaysia, who clawed their way back into the match with a late goal to force extra-time, had their first two penalties saved, easing the pressure on the Indonesian penalty-takers.
The game finished 1-1 in normal time, with a late goal from forward Thamil Arasu cancelling out a spectacular strike from Bayu Gatra after 30 minutes of a game which the Indonesians dominated.
Extra-time was a dour affair with both teams flagging on the large pitch at the purpose-built Zayarthiri stadium in Myanmar's remote capital Naypyidaw.
But the win was sweet revenge for the Indonesians, who lost 3-4 on penalties to their neighbours and intense rivals in the final of the 2011 Games on home ground in Jakarta.
The Malaysians were bidding for their third straight SEA Games gold in the showpiece event of the hotly contested competition.
After a frantic start, the Indonesians began to assert themselves, zipping the ball across the pitch. But neither side could craft a breakthrough, with both defences playing deep.
Bayu broke the deadlock, turning expertly on the right-hand side near the halfway line, before darting inside and playing a one-two on the edge of the box. He then clipped the ball over the advancing Malaysian goalkeeper.
With time running out, Malaysian striker Thamil hooked the ball home from close range after Indonesia failed to clear a low corner, sending the game into extra time.
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