KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia fell to their second defeat in the pre-World Cup by losing 1-0 to Vietnam in Thursday's Group G match in Hanoi.
Playing the 5-3-2 formation, Vietnam were quick, tight and aggressive which limited Malaysia the space to create chances.
Vietnam were not at their best but their high pressing game kept the Malaysians busy in most periods of the game.
Malaysia, however, did trouble Vietnam with set-pieces, one which almost resulted in a goal after 14 minutes.
Safawi Rasid's in-swinging corner kick left Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Van Lam stranded inside his penalty box.
However, the Malaysians could not guide the ball into the empty net.
In the 24th minute, keeper Van Lam misjudged left-back La'Vere Corbin-Ong's long throw into the Vietnam penalty box but Syafiq Ahmad could not guide the ball into an empty net.
Five minutes before half-time, Nguyen Quang Hai, whose goal in the 28th minute was ruled offside, came in from Shahrul's blind side to drive home a Que Ngoc Hai long pass to hand Vietnam the lead.
In the 55th minute, national coach Tan Cheng Hoe replaced Norshahrul Idlan Talaha with Akhyar Rashid in the hope of adding variety in attack but the change made no difference as Malaysia failed to test Vietnam keeper Van Lam throughout the match.
Centre-back Shahrul Saad denied Vietnam's Nguyen And Duc with a goal-line clearance with goalkeeper Farizal Marlias out of position in the 72nd minute.
Overall, Malaysia lacked the creativity while the normally-effective Safawi Rasid and Mohamadou Sumareh failed to spark.
Malaysia with only three points after three matches will need to buck up in their following games if they hope to make an impact in the qualifiers.