Sarawut Masuk’s goal in the 80th minute secured a 1-0 victory over Philippines for Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Friday, eliminating the hosts from contention from a return to the knockout stage.
With the crowd buzzing at Philippines Sports Stadium, Thailand created the first chance six minutes into the match when Mongkol Tossakai held off a Filipino defender before his shot was saved by a fully-stretched Roland Muller.
Two minutes later, Philippines could have taken the lead when a Thai defender awkwardly headed a Mike Ott corner into the post.
The Azkals continue to push for goal and created a number of chances, but their attackers failed to get the ball into the net. A scorching shot from Ott needed to be tipped over by Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool, while Phil Younghusband headed the ball just over from close range.
On the other side, Thailand looked dangerous on the break. A fine cross from Kroekrit Thaweekarn met Mongkol in close range, but the Thai attacker’s header was just over.
The two teams continue to trade blows in the second half, with Kroekrit and Younghusband both coming very close to scoring. However, it was Thailand’s Masuk who broke the deadlock with a clinical finish in a one-on-one situation.
Philippines failed to rally in the closing minutes as the War Elephants finished with a perfect nine points from three matches.
With Indonesia defeating Singapore 2-1 to end the round with four points, the Azkals failed to reach a fourth straight knockout stage after collecting just two points from three games.