AKIPRESS.COM - A Nicholas Tarrao brace helped Macau secure a 2-1 victory over Mongolia in their Group B opener at the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 on Thursday, reported Ghanasoccernet.
A lively first half at Sarawak Stadium saw Macau strike first just before the 15-minute mark through Tarrao only for Tuguldur Munkh-Erdene to equalize as the half-hour approached.
After spending much of the second half under pressure Tarrao struck the winner on 75 minutes as Macau moved alongside Laos at the top of the standings following the Southeast Asians' 2-1 win over Sri Lanka in Thursday's earlier Group B encounter.
Mongolia started brightly and were just inches away from breaking the deadlock on four minutes when Sundorj Janchiv curled a stunning effort from the right side of the edge of the penalty area that rebounded back off the woodwork.
Five minutes later it was Macau’s turn to try their luck as Kou Ut Cheong’s low drive from 18 yards forced goalkeeper Ariunbold Batsaikhan to push wide.
Then on 14 minutes Macau opened the scoring when Tarrao held off the Mongolian defense on the edge of the box before turning and side-footing low into the bottom left corner.
And Tam Iao San’s team could have doubled their lead midway through the half but Batsaikhan recovered well to save from Tarrao after fumbling Leong Ka Hang’s center from the left into the striker’s path.
Tarrao had yet another chance just minutes later when he controlled Pang Chi Hang’s deep cross beautifully on his chest only to scuff his volley straight at the Mongolian custodian.
But just as it appeared Macau were going to take control of the game, Mongolia scored against the run of play in the 29th minute as Munkh-Erdene fizzed a left-footed effort across Ho Man Fai’s goal and in off the left post after the Greens had failed to clear Davaajav Battur’s cross from the left.
Ten minutes after the restart a seemingly innocuous free-kick from Bayarjargal Oyunbat almost ended up in the back of the net after Ho failed to hold onto the ball, but the ‘keeper was lucky to see it bobble back of the post and into his welcome arms.
As the hour neared the Blue Wolves were well on top and Oyunbaatar Otgonbayar lashed narrowly wide following good work from Janchiv on the left as Toshiaki Imai’s team sought to make their dominance count.
But in the final 20 minutes Macau began to ask more questions of the Mongolian defense and went in front with quarter of an hour remaining when Tarrao notched his double from close in after Batsaikhan spilt Battur’s shot from distance.
With Mongolia pushing forward in search of a late equalizer they were always susceptible to the counter-attack and Tarrao burst forward with four minutes to play before losing his footing inside the area when he looked set to strike at goal.
Oyunbaatar Mijiddorj broke into the box deep into stoppage time but a wonderfully timed tackle by Lei Ka Him denied the frontman as he got set to shoot as Macau wrapped up the three points.