AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 Final Leg 2: Malaysia 3-2 Thailand (Thailand Win 4-3 on aggregate)
Thailand ended their 12-year drought in the AFF Suzuki Cup as late goals by Charyl Chappuis and Chanathip Songkrasin gave them a dramatic 4-3 aggregate victory over Malaysia in the second leg of the final at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Saturday.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg in Bangkok, Malaysia struck back on home soil and took the lead when Safiq Rahim scored his second goal of the game with a 58th minute free-kick to make it 3-0 after he had converted a seventh minute penalty and Indra Putra Mahayuddin had headed home just before half-time.
But Chappuis netted a precious away goal for the War Elephants after Farizal Marlias had fumbled a Sarach Yooyen free-kick in the 82nd minute and Chanathip sealed the Thai victory with a fine strike on the counter-attack three minutes from time.
Having been the last Thailand captain to lift the ASEAN trophy in 2002, coach Kiatisuk Senamuang was delighted to be in charge of the team that won the title for a record-equalling fourth time.
“I can’t believe today. It was a very exciting game and perfect and beautiful game,” said the 41-year-old popularly known as Zico.
“I knew it would be tough against 90,000 fans but I said to my players to go home if they wanted to play for a 0-0 draw.
“Malaysia scored three goals and made it a difficult game but I am proud of my team.”
Roared on by a capacity crowd of over 90,000, the home side started the game at a furious pace and they got an early break when they were awarded a penalty in the seventh minute after Norshahrul Idlan Talaha was felled in the box by a Suttinun Phukhom challenge.
Safiq had converted all three of his previous spot kicks in the tournament and the midfielder maintained his perfect record, sending goalkeeper Kawin Thammasatchanan the wrong way from the spot to cut the deficit to one goal.
Malaysia were fortunate not to concede an away goal soon afterwards when a clearance kick by goalkeeper Farizal Marlias cannoned off Adisak Kraisorn but ricocheted just wide of the gaping goal.
Malaysia’s aggressive approach to challenges saw Arif Amiruddin, Amri Yahyah and Indra Putra all booked in the first half but it appeared to rattle the Thais who found it difficult to impose their slick passing style on the game.
They had a great opening in the 33rd minute when Narubadin Weerawatnodom pulled a low cross ball across the face of the six-yard box to an unmarked Kroekrit Thawikan who shot wide from a narrow angle.
But Malaysia would level the aggregate score just before the interval as Norshahrul hung over a cross from the right that was badly misread by Kawin who came off his goalline but failed to get anywhere near Indra who sent his towering header into the unguarded net.
Thailand made a strong start to the second half and they went close to regaining the lead when Kroekrit was sent clear but saw his shot deflected wide by S.Kunanlan’s last-ditch challenge while Sarach had an opportunity from the edge of the box but fired wildly over.
But a foul on Norshahrul 20 metres from goal in the 58th minute prove costly for the visitors. Safiq lined up the free-kick with his trusty right foot and curled it elegantly into the corner of the net for his tournament-leading sixth goal to give Malaysia the lead for the first time in the final.
Thailand nearly grabbed a crucial away goal midway through the second half as Adisak’s shot from the edge of box was deflected wide by Zubir Azmi.
As the game entered the final eight minutes, Sarach was brought down by Norshahrul 20 metres from the Malaysian goal. Sarach had his free-kick beaten away by Farizal but the rebound fell nicely for Chappuis who fired the ball into the net to put the Thais ahead on away goals.
Malaysia pressed to regain the lead and they very nearly got it when Gary Robbat’s shot was deflected wide by Suttinun’s heroic block.
But with time running out, the Thais would hit the home side with a devastating counter-attack that culminated with Adisak teeing up Chanathip who drove an unstoppable effort past Farizal from 20 metres.
“Congratulations to my players, they did very well and we almost got the cup,” lamented Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh.
“But 70 minutes as always cost us our chance. Our fitness was not good and we collapsed. We made mistake but this is football.”