BANGKOK: Thailand used a stellar second half to run past defending Suzuki Cup champions Malaysia and a 2-0 win to advance to the finals.
The match was even 0-0 at half of the Southeast Asian football championship, but Thailand surged ahead with two goals to beat 10-man Malaysia.
In many ways, Malaysia’s hopes were dashed in the 43rd minute after Mohamad Fadhli Shas was sent off after picking up a second yellow card.
In the 61st minute, Teerasil Dangda ran past the Malaysian defense and powered in a goal.
Theerathon Bunmathan was then on target five minutes later to make it 2-0.
The first leg of the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday ended in a 1-1 draw.
Malaysian fans were noticeably frustrated in Bangkok as they left the stadium.
One fan told Bikyamasr.com that “this was not the match we came to see and it just shows that we were not ready for this year’s tournament.”
But Thai fans showed jubilation as they hope to win the title, which they have not hoisted in a decade.
For the fans, it was a signal that they were returning to previous glory when they had dominated the regional championship.
“This is the best Thai team we have seen in a long time. We will win it all,” one fan yelled as they waved flags and began celebrations, which are expected to go well into the evening.