Mitsubishi Electric Cup

REPORT: Vietnam 2-2 Thailand (Final, 1st leg)

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13 Jan 2023


Hanoi: Two away goals ensure Thailand hold a slender advantage in their bid to become back-to-back champions after a thrilling 2-2 draw in the Vietnamese capital in the first leg of the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 final on Friday.

A 24th-minute strike from Nguyen Tien Linh - that moved him level with Teerasil Dangda in the race for the top scorer award - sent Vietnam to the break with a narrow lead before goals from Poramet Arjvirai and Sarach Yooyen put Thailand in control.

Just when it seemed that the tie was leaning decisively in Thailand's favour, substitute Vu Van Thanh struck in the 88th minute to set up a thrilling second leg in Bangkok on Monday.  

Thailand had surprised the hosts by resting three key starters, including the tournament's all-time leading scorer in Teerasil, as well as switching their tactical approach but with neither team taking too many early risks it was a tense opening spell.

Midway through the half though and things sprang to life as a surging run down the right from Que Ngoc Hai saw the central defender deliver a delightful cross that was met by a diving Tien Linh.

The timing of his run left defender Kritsada Kaman flat footed and the powerful forward made no mistake when through on goal to fire Vietnam ahead.

Rocked by the goal, Thailand looked to respond immediately with Dang Van Lam alert to deny Peeradon Chamratsamee in the 37th minute before only the crossbar stopped the visitors from pulling level in the 43rd minute as Theerathon Bunmathan smashed a free-kick from the top of the box off the frame of the goal.

Vietnam took that narrow lead to the break but three minutes after the restart it evaporated as a lofted ball from deep from Theerathon caught the usually alert Vietnamese defence napping with Poramet controlling the ball, cutting inside and firing home between defender and 'keeper to make it 1-1.

A simple, deflected, cross almost caught out the visiting keeper Kampol Pathomakkakul shortly afterwards before Thailand then rocked the home crowd with a second goal.

Another delightful, first-time, ball from the assist king Theerathon released Sarach who was through on goal and made no mistake, rifling past Van Lam at his near post to make it 2-1 in the 63rd minute.

Just as it appeared as though Thailand would hold that decisive advantage, Vietnam struck late on to keep their title hopes well and truly alive.

An 88th-minute corner from the left wasn't dealt with by Thailand with the ball finding its way to substitute Van Thanh who smashed home through a raft of bodies from well outside of the box to complete the dramatic 2-2 draw and leave everything to play for in Bangkok on Monday.