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Rampant Thailand cruises into Suzuki Cup final

BANGKOK: Thailand will meet Singapore in the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup after a 2-0 second half demolition yesterday of a luckless Malaysia, who wilted after a soft sending off swung the tie in the host’s favor.
Thai striker Teerasil Dangda, who got the vital late equalizer in the Kuala Lumpur first leg, was again the hero breaking the deadlock on the hour mark as 10-man Malaysia capitulated after a defiant first-half showing in Bangkok’s Suphachalasai stadium.
Theerathon Bunmathan swept home the second five minutes later as the rampant War Elephants again tore through the visitors’ leggy defense, sealing the 3-1 aggregate victory and sending his side into the two-legged final.
Thailand will travel to Singapore, who edged out the Philippines 1-0 in their semi-final, next Wednesday before the return leg in Bangkok on December 22.
The Thais could have scored a hatful as they carved through Malaysia at will in the second period, leaving the visitors to rue failing to hold on to their slender 1-0 lead in the home leg on Sunday.
Despite needing just a goalless draw to advance to the final, three-time champions Thailand had vowed to go for the jugular backed by a vocal home support.
And they did not disappoint, zipping the ball around in the early exchanges, but failing to get through a resilient Malaysian defense.
Midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao dictated the tempo for the War Elephants’ charge, passing the Thais into control of the game.
But the match turned just before the half-time whistle when the referee gave a second yellow card to Malaysian defender Mohamed Fadhli Mohd Shas after an innocuous seeming off-the-ball incident with a Thai player.
A man down, Malaysia labored in the second half, instantly inviting pressure by giving away easy possession.
Thailand were ruthless in response, stretching the play at will until striker Teerasil raced through to put them ahead.
After that it was a question of how many the hosts would score, with Theerathon finding the net from the left-hand side of the penalty area and only the excellent Malaysian goalkeeper Mohd Farizal preventing a humiliation.


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