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MALAYSIA beat World No 6 New Zealand 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a nail-biting 70 minutes which saw eight goals flying in the quarter-finals of the Champions Challenge I at Kuantan Stadium yesterday.

May Day celebrations almost turned into a May Day distress signal when coach K. Dharmaraj’s men played dramatic hockey.

After being a goal down by the third minute, they took a 4-1 lead before collapsing and ending up with a 4-4 draw in regulation time.

The hard fought victory will now see World No 13 Malaysia play No 16 Canada in the semi-finals tomorrow. Canada beat Poland 3-2 in the other quarter-finals. Malaysia had beaten Canada 4-3 in Group B.

Dharmaraj said: “It was an ‘Oh No!’ feeling when the shoot-out was being taken as we were down 0-2 but eventually won 3-2 with great saves from the goalkeeper (S. Kumar).”

A disappointed New Zealand coach Colin Batch said: “Malaysia were on an upward trend after beating Canada (Tuesday) and were obviously at their best today.”

Steve Edwars tapped in from close range to give the Kiwis an early fourth minute lead, but a super fight-back saw skipper Azlan Misron leading by example to score in the 20th minute while three more were from the efforts of Shahril Saabah (23rd, 31st) and Fitri Saari (24th).

New Zealand clawed back with a hat-trick of penalty corners from Andy Hayward in the 45th, 60th and 70th minutes.

In the penalty shoot-out, Faiz Jali and Faizal Saari missed and the Kiwis were leading 2-0 at that point before S. Kumar brought out three saves while Firhan Ashaari, Shahril Saabah and Fitri Saari were on target.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said: “They should have won in regulation time when leading 4-1, but never mind, as I'm proud of their fighting spirits.”

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