Thailand once again came up trumps against Myanmar in the first semi-final to be played on Saturday as they clinch a place in the final of the 2017 KL SEA Games. A late winner in the dying minutes of added time gave the War Elephants a slim 1-0 win but that was enough to keep them on the gold medal hunt.
Myanmar were the first team to register a shot on target when Yan Naing Oo tested the Thailand keeper in the 11th minute. Nont Muangngam reacted fast to dive to his right to stop Naing Oo's volley from outside the box.
That jolted Thailand into life as they quickly went up the other end and create a chance of their own. Chaiyawat Buran was put through on goal and did well to beat Sann Sat Naing in Myanmar's goal but saw his shot only agonisingly grazing the post.
Thailand continued to have the better of the first half but play had become scrappy. Chenrop Samphaodi was left increasingly isolated up front as Myanmar peddled back in numbers.
It wasn't until the final minute of the opening half that another clear chance was created. Samphaodi's presence caused havoc in Myanmar's defence which led to a loose ball falling into the path of Buran. The latter however failed to keep his shot on target as the game came to a close in the first half with both teams at level pegging.
Like the first half, it was Myanmar who were the first to threaten to break the deadlock. Hike Hike Aung's tremendous free kick effort had to be tipped over the bar by Muangngam in the 50th minute.
Then it was Than Paing's turn with a chance to be a hero for his country just seven minutes later but he scuffed his shot wide after being put through by Aung Thu. Then Thailand step up another gear, buoyed by the introduction of Sasalak Haiprakhon.
The free Haiprakhon would have two good chances coming in from the left hand side. In the 63rd minute, he worked his way past one marker before seeing his shot save by Sat Naing. Then late on the in the 84th minute, could only hit the side netting despite having the time to measure his shot.
Thailand continue to beat at the door and were finally rewarded in the fifth minute of added time. Samphaodi evaded his marker and got at the end of Suriya Singmui's wonderfully delivered cross and headed past Sat Naing for the winner.
The War Elephants have lived up to their tag of pre-tournament favourites and will now be watching keenly the second semi-final to see who their opponent will be.