Hong Kong almost pulled off a huge upset at the Asia Cup when they came close to defeating hosts Malaysia, who struggled to a narrow 2-1 victory in front of 15,000 fans at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. A controversial penalty corner awarded to Malaysia seven minutes from the end was gratefully accepted and then converted, saving the blushes for the home team who were hot favourites to win the preliminary-round match. 'Before the game they were talking about beating us by eight or 10 goals,' said overjoyed manager Billy Dillon. 'I'm so proud of the guys, who showed Hong Kong can compete at the highest level. It is really painful as we came so close to winning and we were certainly unfortunate not to finish with a draw.' Dillon said the crucial penalty against his side was manufactured by the Malaysians, bronze medallists at last year's Asian Games. 'One of their players pushed through two Hong Kong players and fell to the ground. It was obviously manufactured and the rules state in such an instance, it should be a free-hit and not a penalty corner,'' he claimed. Hong Kong were the first to draw blood when in the 25th minute, Asghar Ali finished off a sweet move by younger brother Arif Ali, who dribbled past two defenders before setting up the goal. Malaysia equalised five minutes later and the score was 1-1 at the break. Hong Kong did not lose heart after the controversial goal in the 63rd minute and Arif Ali came close to equalising in the dying seconds when he latched on to a superb through ball from captain Farouq Saeed, rounded the goalkeeper but was left in tears when his shot hit the upright. The SAR, who lost their previous two pool games to Japan (7-3) and Korea (7-1), finish bottom of the pool after last night's heartbreaking loss. They will now play the third-place team in the other pool, either China or Bangladesh, tomorrow for the minor placings. 'If we play the way we did today, we can certainly beat either team and accomplish our goal which is to win a match here,'' said Dillon.