BUKIT JALIL: The national team continued their mean streak as they whipped Timor Leste 5-1 in the second leg of the first round of the 2022 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday (June 11).
Striker Mohd Shahrel Fikri was in his element as he bagged a hattrick through three goals in the 10th, 16th and 63rd minute, while the other goals were scored by Mohamadou Sumareh (36th) and Mohd Akhyar Rashid (53rd) for the easy win at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Rufino Gama was on target for Timor Leste's consolation with his 71st minute strike.
The Harimau Malaya had earlier thrashed the hapless Timorese 7-1 in the first leg at the same venue last Friday to virtually book their berth in the second round.
National team coach Tan Cheng Hoe made four changes to the line-up from the last match by bringing in Muhd Syazwan Andik, Shahrel Fikri, Akhyar and goalkeeper Mohd Ifwat Kamal in the place of first choice goalkeeper and skipper Mohd Farizal Marlias, Corbin Ong, Safawi Rasid and the injured Syafiq Ahmad.
The changes had little impact on the team as the team started the match aggressively, pinning the Timorese in their own half in the opening 10 minutes.
Shahrel quickly put Malaysia in front with his cool strikes in the 10th and 16th minute for a comfortable lead.
The two goal cushion let complacency creep into the Malaysian game and
Ifwat gave away a spot-kick after bringing down Gama following a lapse of concentration from the defence, but he redeemed himself by saving the attempt by Joao Frietas in the 29th minute.
Stunned by Timor Leste's attacks, Malaysia doubled their effort and Sumareh extended the Harimau Malaya lead with his goal in the 36th minute.
Timor-Leste started the second half more menacingly but Akhyar's 53rd minute goal from the edge of the box calmed Malaysian nerves.
Three minutes later, Akhyar earned a spot-kick after felled inside the box but Shahrel squandered the chance as his attempt was saved by goalkeeper Fernandes Raul.
However, Shahrel redeemed himself to pick up his hat-trick with a shot out side the box in the 63rd minute.
With the win secured, Cheng Hoe's men slowed down their game and it enabled Timor-Leste get their consolation from Gama's attempt in the 71st minute.
Malaysia quickly regrouped and saw the game off for the second easy win.