Thailand record vital away win (January 25, 2007)
Hanoi - Thailand took a major step towards making the final of the Asean Football Championships yesterday when they put on an impressive display to defeat Vietnam 2-0 away in Hanoi in the first leg of the semi-final.
A stunned capacity crowd at Hanoi's My Dinh stadium fell silent as the Thai side grabbed a goal in each half through Datsakorn Thonglao and Pipat Tonkanya.
It was a very professional performance by Thailand. Although Vietnam may have had more possession the Thai team defended well and always looked dangerous on the break.
Backed by the vociferous crowd, Vietnam attacked from the opening whistle and nearly scored in the first minute but keeper Kittisak Rawangpa, back in the team after missing the preliminary matches, saved well.
Thailand responded with a quick counter-attack and that was the pattern of play in an entertaining opening 20 minutes.
The longer the game went on the more comfortable Thailand looked and they were rewarded in the 28th minute. An excellent 30-yard free-kick from midfielder Datsakorn squeezed inside the post to give Thailand a timely 1-0 lead.
Vietnam kept up their attacks and a fine effort by captain Nguyen Minh Phoung from a free-kick was well saved by Kittisak.
The hosts then had a great chance to equalise when they were awarded a penalty after Niweat Siriwong appeared to bring down Nguyen Van Bien inside the area. Indonesian referee, Jimmy Napitupulu had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
However, striker Phan Thang Binh's spot kick missed the target and Thailand were able to go in at the interval with a valuable 1-0 lead.
After the break it was much the same pattern with Vietnam having plenty of possession and Thailand making quick breaks.
Vietnam began to put on the pressure and Kittisak was forced into a couple of fines saves.
However the Thai defence generally held firm and the Vietnamese began to show some frustration at not being able to draw level.
Thailand knew a second goal would make life much more comfortable and it came in the 81st minute. A quick breakaway by Thailand saw the Vietnam defence get into a tangle and Pipat was on hand to slot the ball home from close range to make it 2-0.
In the final 10 minutes Vietnam battled away in search of two goals but the Thai defence held firm to give their team a well-deserved victory.
The second leg will be played at Supachalasai stadium on Sunday.
In the other semi-final Singapore held Malaysia to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night.
Second Semi-final first leg: Thailand 2 (Datsakorn Thonglao 28, Pipat Tonkanya 81) Vietnam 0