Thailand put up a clinical performance to beat Vietnam 3-1 to emerge as Group B winners as Myanmar had to fight with everything they had before they were able to win Group A with a 3-3 draw against Cambodia in their final match of the group.
The Thais, the defending champions of the biennial championship, rested several key players like Chanathip Songkrasin and captain Sarach Yooyen but was still formidable as they scored once in the first half before adding two more in the second half at the Bishan Stadium.
The win allowed Thailand to take top spot in Group B as Vietnam emerged runners-up.
“We had no do choice as we had to rotate the players but those who came in did an excellent job to make sure that we pick up the full three points,” said Thai coach Choketawee Promrut.
“I believe that this winning mentality is rubbing on the team and we did well against Vietnam.”
In what was Bishan Stadium’s biggest ever attendance, Vietnam started strongly through Le Thanh Binh and Tran Phi Son.
But it was to Thailand who carved the best chances in the 19th minute with Chananan Pombubpha firing from inside the box that was blocked by keeper Pham Van Tien.
Three minutes later, there was no stopping Pakorn Parmpak when he burst through two Vietnam defenders before unleashing an unstoppable past Van Tien.
There was no immediate response from Vietnam as they passed the ball around in an attempt to get the ball behind the Thai defence.
It was not until the 44th minute that they finally managed to cross one in but the floater from Phi Son saw a weak header from Thanh Bien that did little to trouble Thai custodian Chanin ase-Ear.
Thailand then went up a gear as they made some excellent passes to break the Vietnam defence.
With Chananan coming close yet again in the 51st minute with a clever grounder that although had Van Tien beaten, came off the cross bar instead.
In the 61st minute, Thailand added to the tally when Thitiphan Puangjan converted a penalty after Tristan Do was felled inside the box.
Tristan then added the third goal with a turning shot in the 77th minute before Vietnam finally found the drive to score the consolation goal right at the end off an excellent volley from Thanh Binh.
“I don’t know what happened in the first half,” said Vietnam coach Toshiya Miura.
“I was not satisfied with the players as they allowed Thailand to pass the ball around and creating some chances against us.”
In the meantime at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Myanmar had to fight from two goals down before they were able to hold Cambodia to an exhilarating 3-3 draw.
Cambodia put themselves 2-0 in front off goals from Keo Sokpheng in the 26th minute and then Chan Vathanaka in the 45th minute.
Thiha Zaw then pulled a goal back just eight minutes after the restart before Cambodia restored their two-goal advantage through Sokpheng just two minutes later.
But Myanmar coach Kyi Lwin’s decision to bring in regulars Naing Kaung Sat and Aung Si Thu would be pivotal as the duo grabbed two goals right at the end, in the 89th and 90th minute respectively.
The one point tonight was enough for Myanmar to win Group A while the runners-up will only be decided tomorrow when hosts Singapore take on Indonesia.
Myanmar 3 Cambodia 3
Vietnam 1 Thailand 3
GROUP A CURRENT STANDINGS
GROUP B CURRENT STANDINGS