Safawi Rasid was Malaysia's hero as they clinched a 1-0 win over Laos on Sunday in their quest for 2020 AFC U-23 Championship qualification.
National head coach Ong Kim Swee made five changes from the starting line-up that beat the Philippines 3-0, including resting Safawi and Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Razak.
The massive overhaul seemed to affect the young Tigers' attacking edge and concentration with the likes of Akhyar Rashid, who scored two goals just two days ago, and Nik Azli Nik Alias failing to convert their chances.
Not only that, they also struggled to cope with Laos' pressing style.
With qualification hanging in the balance, Ong eventually summoned Safawi, as well Jafri Firdaus Chew, off the bench in the second half, which immediately improved Malaysia's attack.
The breakthrough finally arrived in the 80th minute with Safawi's free-kick bouncing off the goal frame and the Laos goalkeeper into the back of the net to give Malaysia the win.
The win put Malaysia level on points in Group J with China, who hammered the Philippines 8-0 and whom they will be facing on Tuesday.
The winning team of the encounter will qualify for the AFC U-23 Championship finals in Thailand next year, while the losing team will be hoping to make it through as one of the five best second-placed teams.