Pipat brace boosts Thailand

Thailand top Group A with a 2-0 win over Oman.

    One down: Thailand celebrate their first goal [AFP]

    Two inspired substitutions vaulted Thailand to an historic 2-0 win over Oman and put the Asian Cup co-hosts on the verge of a place in the quarterfinals.

    A eight minute brace from substitute striker Pipat Tonkanya gave Thailand's their first win in regulation time in the history of the Asian Cup, with this being its 17th match.

    The victory puts Thailand on four points from two games in Group A and, while not yet guaranteed a quarterfinal berth, the Elephants may have already done enough to make the knock-out stages.

    Oman, with one point from two games, would need to beat Iraq in its final group game and rely on other results going its way if it is to progress.

    "Four points means that we have a good chance now. But we cannot decide anything until the last match is completed," said Thailand coach Chanvit Polchovin, who was tearful in the post-match press conference, overwhelmed at his team's achievment.

    "It has sparked hope and regained the team's confidence.

    "It was a tough game because we both set the target to take three points. We used a lot of techniques in this game, we could not rush too much and could not defend too much."

    Cautious start

    With Group A on a knife edge after both opening matches in the group ended in 1-1 draws, the understandable caution displayed by both sides made for a soporific first half.

    The two teams displayed more aggression and enterprise in the second half, with tournament co-host Thailand taking the game to their opponents.

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    Chanvit can take much of the credit for the victory, as it was his introduction of forwards Pipat and Teerathep Winothai swung the match in the second half.

    The breakthrough came in the 69th minute when Teerathep, who came off the bench to replace veteran Kiatisak Senamuang, ran onto a clever throughball played down the right flank.

    He sent a precise cross to the back post where an unmarked Pipat stabbed the ball home from close range, prompting jubilation among the crowd at Rajamangala Stadium.

    Doubling the advantage

    The good understanding between BEC Tero Sasana clubmates Teerathep and Pipat saw the second goal scored in the 77th minute.

    Teerathep did well to leap for a flick-on header into the path of Pipat, who slotted home a 12-yard shot to put the result beyond doubt.

    Oman, having impressed in a 1-1 draw against tournament favorite Australia in its opening fixture, was very disappointing, rarely threatening the Thai goal.

    Oman's Argentine coach Gabriel Calderon was disappointed in the four yellow cards his side received as opposed to none for Thailand, and some marginal offside calls.

    "The referee made mistakes, but Oman didn't play good," Calderon said.

    "You have to know that my players had one month's training, so they could not get good physical condition. Physically, Thailand is better than Oman.

    "We have three finals. We drew the first, lost the second, but still have a third match."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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