Malaysia into Suzuki Cup fi­nal

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Malaysia moved into the fi­nal of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup yes­ter­day in dra­matic fash­ion, elim­i­nat­ing de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Thai­land cour­tesy of away goals after draw­ing the sec­ond leg of the semi-fi­nal in Bangkok 2-2.

Four days after a first-leg goal­less draw in Kuala Lumpur, a 95th minute penalty miss from Thai­land striker Adisak Kraisorn en­sured that Nor­shahrul Id­lan Talaha’s sec­ond­half strike was enough to end Thai­land’s hopes of a third suc­ces­sive South­east Asian ti­tle. It was a tense night at the Ra­ja­man­gala Sta­dium but the ma­jor­ity of the 40,000 fans were cel­e­brat­ing as Thai­land broke the dead­lock after 21 min­utes in some­what for­tu­itous cir­cum­stances.

Goal­keeper Farizal Mar­lias saved Thi­ti­pan Puangchan’s header but his clear­ance bounced off de­fender Ir­fan Zakaria and rolled into the net.

The away sup­port­ers were soon cel­e­brat­ing as Malaysia drew level be­fore the halfhour. Syahmi Sa­fari was given space out­side the area and the 20-year-old back found the top cor­ner with a loop­ing drive to record his first in­ter­na­tional goal. Three min­utes after the hour, the home fans were in full voice once again. A left-sided free-kick caused havoc in the Malaysian area and Pansa Hemvi­boon was there to head home from close range.

With 20 min­utes re­main­ing, Nor­shahrul col­lected the ball in the area with his back to goal to turn and shoot into the far cor­ner.

Deep into in­jury time, Syahmi han­dled a high ball in the area and, red-carded, watched from the side­lines as Adisak — top scorer in the tour­na­ment so far with eight goals — bal­looned the ball over the bar.

Malaysia will face the win­ner of the other semi-fi­nal, with Viet­nam tak­ing a 2-1 ad­van­tage over the Philip­pines back to Hanoi for the sec­ond leg to­day.

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