Ho Chi Minh City: Thailand kept their chances of qualifying for next year's FIFA World Cup alive after beating Myanmar 2-1 in their final group match of the AFC Women's Asia Cup on Monday at Binh Duong Stadium.
Thailand opened the scoring in the 27th minute through Kanjana Sung-Ngoen but Myanmar, who had lost to Thailand in the semi-finals of the SEA Games last year on penalties, found themselves back on level terms on the stroke of half-time when Yee Yee Oo fired home.
Thailand were able to restore their lead 12 minutes into the second half when Sritala Duangnapa got the better of a goal-mouth scramble and were able to hold on for the crucial win.
Both sides went into the must-win match with the fifth-place play-off at stake having lost their opening two group games with China and Korea Republic.
And it was Thailand who started the brighter of the two teams but some resolute defending from Myanmar kept them at bay and they were unable to trouble Mya Phu Ngon's goal.
Thailand did find a way to unlock the defence midway through the first half, though, when Sung-Ngoen played a ball behind the Myanmar's back line which was latched onto by Thongsombut Rattikan who was pulled down in the box by Moe Moe War.
Sung-Ngoen stepped up to take the resulting penalty and despite Mya Phy Ngon managing to get a leg to the forward’s effort it was not enough to prevent the ball finding the back of the net.
But the sides went into the half-time break level when Khin Marlar Tun played a ball down the line to find Yee Yee Oo in the box and she cut back inside Duangnapa before neatly finishing into the far corner past a helpless Waraporn Boonsing in the Thailand goal.
With the game opening up in the second half Myanmar went close when Than Than Htwe made a mazy run on 55 minutes beating several players before playing in Yee Yee Oo but unlike her earlier goal she snatched at the ball and saw her shot go wide.
It was Thailand, though, who found themselves back in the driving seat after 58 minutes when Myanmar failed to clear a free-kick from Darut Changplook, and with the ball bouncing around the box Duangnapa was able to get a decisive touch and prod the ball into the goal.
Looking for a way back into the game Myanmar coach Yoshinori Kumada switched to a more attacking formation with 20 minutes remaining and brought on Naw Ar Lo Wer Phaw, who had limped off injured in the first half of their opening game with Korea Republic.
However, their opponents went closest to scoring a third six minutes from time when Sunisa Srangthaisong latched onto a flick on from Nisa Romyen, but her chipped effort over an out-rushing Mya Phu Ngon was denied by the post.
Khin Moe Wai thought she had found a late equaliser two-minutes from the end, however, when the ball fell to her just yards from goal but Boonsing was quick off her line to smother any effort and Thailand were able to play out the remaining minutes.
Thailand must now play tournament hosts Vietnam, whose squad were in the stadium to watch their opponents, on Wednesday at Thong Nhat Stadium with a place at the World Cup in Canada on the line.
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