A double from the prolific Chanthip ‘Jay’ Songkrasin led Thailand to an important 2-0 win over Vietnam in the first leg, semifinal 2 of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 this evening at the National Stadium.
In the eagerly awaited affair between two giants of ASEAN football, the battle was close but it was to be the diminutive Chanathip who made all the difference with two first-half goals.
Not even a missed penalty in the second half could prevent Chanathip from scooping up his first Man of the Match award.
“Of course, I am happy to win (the game and also the Man of the Match award) but the effort goes to the whole team. I was not the only one working tonight. It all boils down to the belief of the coach. But we are not finished yet. There’s still halfway to go yet,” said Chanathip.
Added Thailand head coach Alexandre Polking: “we have taken an important first step (for a place in the final). It was very important to get the result tonight. There’s still another 90 minutes to play for.”
While Vietnam created the first real chance of the game off a corner from Nguyen Hoang Duc, it was Thailand who capitalised with a quick counter-attack in the 14th minute off Teerasil Dangda and Thanawat Suengchitthawon that allowed Chanathip to take advantage and score.
It took Thailand just under ten minutes later to double the advantage with a cleverly worked one-twos with Supachok Sarachat as Chanathip then slipped it past Vietnam keeper Tran Nguyen Manh.
Midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai was unlucky to find the back of the net when he hit the upright and then the crossbar in either half of the absorbing affair.
And five minutes to the end, Chanathip had a great chance to grab a hattrick and further extend the advantage for Thailand, but unfortunately, Nguyen Manh managed to block his attempt.
“Our players played well and in spite of what happened in the game tonight, we will just need to focus on the next match,” added Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo.
“The players seemed stressed but we still managed to play a high-pressure game in the second half. Two goals down but we still have a chance. We just need to make some adjustments.”
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2020
SEMIFINAL 2, FIRST LEG – National Stadium
23 December 2021
Vietnam 0-2 Thailand
Pictures Courtesy of Sportfive