AFF CUP S-FINALS, 1ST LEG
YANGON • Thailand, it appears, have already got the job done in the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup,with a brace from Teerasil Dangda giving them a 2-0 win in the first leg against Myanmar.
The War Elephants did it at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, without breaking much sweat as well, as they showed that they are a class apart from their hosts, reported the tournament website.
Teerasil broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute with an explosive finish into the top corner after he was played in by Chanathip Songkrasin. The captain doubled the advantage 10 minutes into the second half, this time latching onto a through ball from left-back Theerathon Bunmathan, turning away from one marker and skipping past another before slotting it into the bottom corner with his left foot.
The goals took the 28-year-old forward's tally to five in this year's competition and he is now just three goals behind all-time AFF Championship top scorer Noh Alam Shah of Singapore, who has 17 goals to his name. Thailand's Worrawoot Srimaka and Vietnam's Le Cong Vinh are joint second on that list with 15 goals.
Myanmar, who were playing in only their second semi-finals in the history of the tournament and their first since 2004, made a bright start. They almost took the lead in the 10th minute when they worked the ball through the static Thai defence. The chance fell to forward Kaung Set Naing, who plays for Thai fourth division side Samut Sakhon, but the angle proved too acute for him and he shot straight at goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.
Thailand, in full force with the inclusion of Kawin, Sarach Yooyen, Chanathip and Teerasil after they were rested for the final group game against the Philippines, began to dictate terms soon after.
Kiatisuk Senamuang's men had a good chance to take the lead in the 16th minute when a smart dummy from Pokklaw Anan allowed Kroekrit Thawikan to get the ball right outside the area, but his shot was not powerful enough to trouble Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Phyo.
But they broke the deadlock seven minutes later via Teerasil as they continued to create several chances in the first half.
The home side showed some fighting spirit towards the end of the first half and had the ball in the back of the net in the 36th minute.
Aung Thu turned his markers inside out before crossing for Mg Mg Lwin to tap the ball in, but he was rightly called for offside.
Myanmar had another chance to equalise but Aung Thu fired meekly at Kawin after Nanda Kyaw's cross was half-cleared into his path.
Thailand then showed how it should be done on 55 minutes, with Teerasil's unerring finish.
The holders appear set for a third straight Suzuki Cup final as they head into Thursday's second leg at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.