Own goal gives Thailand triumph over Iraq (December 25, 2007)
A late own goal by Iraq gifted Thailand a 2-1 win as the hosts cruised into the final of the 38th King's Cup at Rajamangala National Stadium last night.
Nattaporn Phanrit put the defending champions ahead just before half-time. Mouslim Mobarak Almas equalised for Iraq early in the second half only for team-mate Mohammed Ahmed Abid Ali to head into his own net with eight minutes to go.
It was Thailand's second victory in as many matches in the four-team tournament.
The kingdom also needed a late strike to beat Uzbekistan 3-2 in their opening match.
Thailand secured a final berth following a 2-2 draw between North Korea and Uzbekistan earlier yesterday.
Thailand have six points, Iraq three, and North Korea and Uzbekistan one each.
The top two teams after the round-robin preliminary stage meet in the final.
Thailand made four changes to the starting line-up from the previous match with Anon Sangsanoi, the top scorer at the recent SEA Games, given a chance to partner hot-shot Sarayuth Chaikamdee.
A laclustre first half seemed heading for a scoreless draw until one minute from the interval. Sarayuth's cross perfectly found an unmarked Nattaporn who headed home to give Thailand a 1-0 lead at half-time.
Iraq were quick to equalise after the break when Almas exploited poor marking to score from close range.
The Iraqis were the better side in the second half. They created more scoring chances that prompted Thailand goalkeeper Kosin Hathairattanakul to make several saves.
However, Thailand regained the lead for good after 84 minutes when Abid Ali tried to clear a Narongchai Vachiraban cross but the ball went into his own net.
Thailand coach Chanvit Phalajivin said Iraq were strong and their pressing game was good and that his men were poor in defence.
"We need to improve on that," said Chanvit, adding that Thailand would go for three points in the final preliminary game.
In yesterday's other match, Uzbekistan drew 2-2 with North Korea.
The North Koreans got the goals from An Chol Hyok in the 41st minute and Kim Kum Il in injury time. On target for the Uzbeks were Pavel Solomin (53) and Timur Yafavrov (65).
In the last round of the preliminary stage tomorrow, Thailand meet North Korea and Iraq take on Uzbekistan.
P W D L F A Pts
Thailand 2 2 0 0 5 3 6
Iraq 2 1 0 1 2 1 3
Uzbekistan 2 0 1 1 4 5 1
North Korea 2 0 1 1 2 3 1