Malaysia will take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their Asean Championship semi-final against Thailand in Bangkok on Tuesday after Faisal Halim's early strike earned Kim Pan-gon's side victory in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
The 2010 champions could have had a greater advantage at the end of the first leg had South Korean referee Kim Dae-yong not disallowed a second goal for the home side 10 minutes into the second half when Dominic Tan's header was ruled out.
Kim initially awarded the goal after Tan had met Lee Tuck's lofted free kick into the area only to rule there had been an infringement leading up to the goal.
Television replays showed there had been no illegal contact but with VAR not in use in the competition Kim's on-field decision stood, incensing the home side.
The Malaysians had gone in front in the 11th minute when Faisal celebrated his 25th birthday by scuffing his volley through the legs of goalkeeper Kittipong Phoothawchuek after Ruventhiran Vengadesan's headed knock down.
But a minute into the second half Teerasil Dangda almost pulled his side level when he glanced his header against the base of the post before Tan's 55th minute header was controversially disallowed.
The winner on Tuesday will take on either Indonesia or Vietnam in the final, which will be played over two legs on Jan. 13 and 16. The first leg between the pair ended in a 0-0 draw on Friday and they will meet again in Hanoi on Monday.