Thailand won Philippines 2-1 on Saturday evening after a domineering display.
The two teams kicked off their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign this evening to a less than intended crowd as political unrest plagued Bangkok, resulting in road blockades which dissuaded spectators from making their way to the match.
The game kicked off to a scrappy start, with the poor pitch condition not helping the situation.
The Azkals were defending stoutly, and were frustrating the Thais, with a litany of fouls being committed.
Yet, the Thais were dominating, and holding possession.
Up until the 37th minutes, only two shots in total were registered in the game, and were by Thailand even though they were not on target.
However, encouraged by the crowd, the War Elephants probed, and managed to score their first goal in the 38th minute after great build-up play allowed Theerathon Bunmathan to cross the ball into the box for an unmarked Jakkapan Pornsai to power past Eduard Sacapano.
Shortly after, Thailand extended their lead in the 41st minute when Teerasil Dangda flicked the ball through to Anucha Kitpongsri who calmly took the ball away from Eduard and placed it in the net for Thailand’s second.
The second half started, with Philippines making a change, substituting Philip Younghusband for Marvin Angeles up front in an effort to bring them back into the game.
However, Kawin Thamsatchanan was rarely troubled and Thailand maintained their hold on the game, though chances were few and far between.
In the 74th minute, Thailand nearly killed off the game with Sumanya Purisay beating the offside trap but with only the keeper to beat his shot trickled just wide.
The game then burst into life, when the Azkals then managed to score, albeit against the run of play after Patrick Reichelt’s cross was converted by Paul Mulders, to give them a chance to salvage the game.
There was more drama to come, as Philippines coach Michael Weiss was sent off in the 81st minute after throwing the ball at Kitpongsri who was lying on the floor.
Philippines then tried to force an equaliser by resorting to long balls forward but to no avail.
After five minutes of stoppage time, the Thais calmly saw out the game and emerged with the first win of the tournament.