Teerasil to the rescue as Thailand survive Suzuki Cup scare

Thailand kicked off their title AFF Suzuki Cup title defence with a 4-2 win over Indonesia on Saturday afternoon.

The War Elephants relinquished a two-goal lead 10 minutes into the second half, but Teerasil Dangda made sure his side came out on top with two late goals and a hat-trick overall in the game.

The Thais were favourites going into the match and they did not disappoint by taking the lead within five minutes of the kick-off.

Indonesian defender Yanto Basna — who had a poor game — failed to clear his line and a mix-up with his goalkeeper allowed the ball to bounce towards Peerapat Notechaiya, who found the bottom right corner to give Thailand the lead.

It should have been 2-0 four minutes later, as Teerasil met Prathum Chuthong’s flick-on at point-blank range but the marksman diverted his effort into the bar.

However, credit to Indonesia, they refused to be cowed and gave the War Elephants plenty to worry about, with Rizky Pora curling a shot just over in the 11th minute while Kawin Thamsatchanan pulled of a huge save to tip behind Boaz Solossa’s deflected shot.

The Indonesians came close to finding an equaliser again in the 23rd minute, only for Stefano Lilipaly to see his shot bounce just wide of the post after finding acres of space outside the box.

Just when Indonesia seemed as though they were on the verge of levelling matters, Basna committed another mistake in the 36th minute, fluffing his clearance from Chanathip Songkrasin’s squared ball to allow a lurking Teerasil to scuff the ball home.

Indonesia did well to fight back into the game

After the break, Indonesia found a way back into the match through Solossa, as he ghosted in between two defenders to nudge Rizki’s cross past Kawin in the 53rd minute.

The comeback was completed three minutes later, as Beny Wahyudi picked out Lerby Eliandry and the forward was allowed to run in unmarked to thump in the equaliser.

While that goal did pull Indonesia level, it also reinvigorated the Thais and they started to threaten once again.

Teerasil’s volley on the hour mark just flashed over the goal but the striker showed why he is Thailand’s danger man in the 78th minute to give them back the lead.

Latching onto Sarach Yooyen’s lay-off from the edge of the box, he bulged the back of the net with a thunderous effort.

There was still time for Indonesia to find an equaliser again but Kawin stood strong in injury time to parry away Solossa’s stinging shot.

Teerasil made sure of the points for Thailand and his hat-trick by stabbing home from close range to make it 4-2 before the final whistle came.

Next up in Group A, co-hosts Philippines will take on Singapore.

Photos: AFF