David Htan’s dramatic late goal sent Myanmar into the semifinals of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016 with a 1-0 win over Malaysia on Saturday night at Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon.
With semifinal-bound Vietnam and already-eliminated Cambodia playing a dead rubber, both teams came into the match knowing that the winner would advance to next month’s knockout stage.
The two sides traded tentative attacks in the opening minutes, and Myanmar’s first real chance came in the 11th minute when Aung Thu’s free kick was punched out by the Malaysian keeper.
Just moments later, Aung would draw a penalty after being tripped just inside the area by Ahmid Hazwan. But his grounder had far too little power and was easily blocked by Khairul Fahmi.
Late in the 19th minute, Ahmad Fakri’s effort from the the edge of the box was well-saved by Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Phyo.
The stalemate continued into the 33rd minute, with Myo Ko Tun’s well-intended right-footed loop tipped wide for a corner kick. Moments later, a Myanmar header forced another Khairul save.
Myanmar nearly took the lead two minutes before halftime when Aung’s perfectly-aimed free kick bounced off the left end of the crossbar.
The hosts came out of the locker room strongly, making numerous incursions into the final third. Play stopped in the 57th minute when Aung was taken down near the far sideline by Mohd Rizal, with a packed crowd shouting for a free kick.
Malaysia rarely had a chance to mount a sustained attack despite offensive-minded substitutions that included Darren Lok and Shahrul Saad in the 67th and 74th minutes respectively.
At last it was right winger Htan who provided the game-winner in the 90th with a clever grounder into the lower right corner from just outside of the penalty area.
The White Angels will face Group A winners Thailand in the knockout round, while Group B winners Vietnam will take on Indonesia.