KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Thailand won the Asean Cup for a record-equalling fourth time on Saturday after scoring twice in the last 10 minutes to beat Malaysia 4-3 on aggregate.
Despite losing Saturday’s second leg 3-2 in Kuala Lumpur, Thailand clinched the title after winning 2-0 in Bangkok on Wednesday.
Roared on by a boisterous home crowd of 100,000 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia were minutes away from snatching the title when they led 3-0.
But the Thais pulled one back through Charyl Chappuis in the 81st minute, to take the lead on away goals, before sealing the result with a stunning strike from Chanathip Songkrasin in the 88th minute.
Thailand also won the biennial championship in 1996, 2000 and 2002, and Saturday’s win brought the War Elephants level with Singapore’s record of four titles.
For Malaysia, who won their only southeast Asian crown in 2010, it was a heart-breaking end for a team that had come back from the brink of defeat to beat Singapore in the pool phase then Vietnam in the semi-finals.
The Tigers led 2-0 at halftime after Safiq Rahim converted a penalty in the sixth minute and Indra Putra climbed above the Thai defence to score from a header in stoppage time after the visitors were inches away from getting an equaliser when Adisak Kraisorn hit the post with a long-range strike.
Malaysia extended their lead to 3-0 in the 58th minute when Rafiq, who was awarded the golden boot as the tournament’s leading scorer, notched his sixth goal with a perfectly taken free kick, curling the ball over the wall and past the outstretched hands of Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.
But the youthful Thailand side saved their best for last. Charyl was the first to react when Malaysia keeper pulled off a diving save from a free kick by Kroekrit Thawikan, knocking the rebound into the net.
Chanathip, who was named player of the finals, blasted the ball into the back of the net with a powerful left-foot shot from outside the box.