Never so much did defeat feel like a moral victory for Malaysia as they narrowly lost to United Arab Emirates in Tuesday night's AFC 2018 World Cup qualifier, their final international match of the year.
UAE finished third in January's AFC Asian Cup, knocking out defending champions Japan on the way to the semi-finals. In September, Omar Abdulrahman and the Emiratis ran rings around the Malaysians in a record 10-0 hammering in Abu Dhabi.
Tuesday's more respectable 2-1 loss unfolded on the same Shah Alam Stadium pitch where angry fans fired flares in September, causing a subsequent World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia to be abandoned. As a result, the home match against UAE was played behind locked doors.
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