Thailand cruised into the AFF Suzuki Cup Final beating the Philipines 3-0 in a one-sided contest. They dominated the game apart from a short spell at the start of the second half.
Thailand were without the services of the suspended Adisak and elected to play without an out and out striker. They relied on midfield players getting forward and this unsettled the Philipines defence.
They were unsure about who should mark who and were left floundering by the speed of the Thailand passing. Prakit sent a second minute free-kick just wide, though the keeper had it covered.
Thailand took the lead in the sixth minute with a well-worked goal.A left-wing cross was headed down and back to Chanathip who was lurking just outside the area.He controlled the ball before calmly placing a low left-foot shot into the corner of the net.
The keeper had no chance and it was just the start Thailand wanted.However, they knew that an equalizer would mean that the Philipines would be ahead on the away goals rule.
Mongkol was causing the Philipines plenty of problems down the right and he was foiled by a smart save by the keeper in the tenth minute. Chappuis was also at the heart of many of Thailand’s best moves.
Thailand were having all the possession and nothing had been seen of the Philipines attack.The movement and passing of the Thais was outstanding but it also has to be said that they were a little too elaborate around the penalty area.
For all their possession, they weren’t creating clear cut chances. A more direct move saw the ball headed back to Chanathip who sent his shot just over the bar in the thirtieth minute and Peerapat did the same eight minutes later.
Two minutes before the interval Thailand had a great chance to get the all-important second goal. A long ball out of defence found Prakit in the clear and he raced in on goal.
However, he failed to keep his nerve and instead of shooting he tried to square the ball to Chappuis who was in support down the right. Sadly the pass was not good enough and the chance was gone.
So despite their undoubted superiority, Thailand still had plenty to do in the second half.
The Philipines came out strongly after the interval and went looking for the vital equalizer and the Thai keeper had to turn a fierce shot over the bar. However, the Thai defence stood firm and eventually Thailand began to reassert their authority.
In the fifty-sixth minute Thailand got the all-important second goal and again it was a route one affair. A long ball sent Thawikam clear but he still had plenty to do. He controlled the ball with his chest and then kept his composure and cooly beat the keeper.
Another well-executed goal which gave Thailand breathing space and it knocked the stuffing out of the Philipines . Thailand were now in complete control and more goals seemed likely.
The Thais were playing possession football and the Philipines were showing no signs of getting back into the game. Indeed, they were reduced to ten men when a reckless challenge by a defender saw him receive a second yellow and subsequent red.
Thailand pressed home their numerical advantage and it was no surprise when they added a third goal four minutes from time. And it was Thawikam again who neatly controlled another long ball down the left.
He turned inside a defender before beating the keeper with a precise low shot into the far corner.This gave the scoreline a more realistic look and Thailand saw out time for a comfortable victory.
This was a good performance by a young Thai team which bodes well for the future and they can look forward to the final with great confidence.
Thailand will meet either Vietnam or Malaysia (who are playing in Vietnam today) for the final showdown on the 17th (at home) and 20th of December (away).