Malaysia edge past Japan, New Zealand, Canada share points at Azlan Shah hockey
Razie Rahim restored the Malaysian lead with his second penalty corner conversion in the 11th minute, followed by another penalty corner striker from Haziq Samsul in the 14th minute. (Getty Images)
Ipoh, Malaysia: Two penalty corner conversions by captain Razie Rahim helped hosts Malaysia scrape past Japan 4-3 and move to the top of the round-robin league standings in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Thursday.
The game was only in its second minute when Razie opened the Malaysian account with a firm penalty corner drive, but rival captain Hiroki Sakamoto shot on target with a penalty corner flick at the other end a minute later.
Razie restored the Malaysian lead with his second penalty corner conversion in the 11th minute, followed by another penalty corner striker from Haziq Samsul in the 14th minute.
Fitri Saari duly placed a penalty stroke past Japanese goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa in the 32nd minute to make it a 4-1.
But Japan came back strongly in the last quarter and Shota Yamada scored twice with successive penalty corner drag-flicks in the 54th and 59th minute to make it a keen contest.
Coming after their 3-3 draw with defending champions New Zealand, Malaysia's victory puts them on top of the standings with four points from two matches, followed by Australia and Pakistan on three points through victories in their lone outings so far.
Australia began their campaign on Thursday with a 5-1 drubbing of India, who are in fourth place in the seven-nation event with three points from two outings.
Thursday was a rest day for Pakistan, who posted a 3-1 victory over Canada in the opening fixture.
New Zealand have just two points after drawing both their matches. The Black Sticks were on Thursday held to a 1-1 draw by Canada, for whom custodian Anthoni Kindler played an outstanding game.
Bringing off half a dozen outstanding saves to thwart New Zealand shots at the goal, Kindler was adjudged Man-of-the-Match in the encounter.
Gordon Johnston's 25th-minute penalty gave Canada the lead that they enjoyed until Nic Woods equalised with a penalty corner conversion 20 minutes later.
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