Malaysia survive late drama to make final
Bangkok: Malaysia came from behind twice and then survived a late penalty to hold Thailand to a 2-2 draw in their 2018 AFF Cup semi-finals second leg, advancing to the final on away goals on Wednesday.
The Harimau Malaya will face either Vietnam or Philippines in the final. Vietnam won the first leg 2-1 and host the return leg on Thursday.
Malaysia, who failed to convert several chances in the first leg which ended 0-0 last Saturday, fell behind in the 21st minute in front of a capacity crowd at the Rajamangala Stadium.
The War Elephants went in front after Supachai Jaided’s cross from the right found Mongkol Tossakrai at the back post who headed across goal, but a defensive mix up saw Irfan Zakaria conceding an own goal to give Thailand the lead.
Tan Cheng Hoe’s side, however, came back fighting and levelled the score nine minutes later to give Malaysia the all-important away goal
Syahmi Safari finished off beautifully with a screamer when he scored just from outside the box following a good build-up.
Thailand started the second half with purpose and it was not long before five-time champions broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute off a free-kick which Pansa Hemviboon headed in on his second attempt.
Malaysia made a tactical change four minutes later and brought in Akhyar Rashid for Safawi Rasid in an attempt to chase the deficit.
Their persistence paid off in the 71st minute after unmarked Norshahrul Talaha collected Syamer Kutty Abba’s pass in the box and turned swiftly to score past goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom.
Thailand were thrown a lifeline deep into added time when they were awarded a penalty after Syahmi's hand ball.
Syahmi was shown the red card but it wasn't to be the final drama as tournament top scorer Adisak Kraisorn missed the penalty, sending his effort way above the crossbar, as Malaysia went on to win the tie on away goals.