Defending champions Thailand left Yangon with a decisive advantage following their 2-0 first leg win over Myanmar in the semifinals of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016.
Much like in last month’s group stage, Thuwanna Stadium was packed with local supporters as well as several hundred Thai fans who made the cross-border trip.
The hosts forced Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan to action in the 10th minute when he dove to cover Kaung Sett Naing’s low effort from the far post.
On the other end, Kroekrit Thaweekarn pressured Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Phyo, forcing a diving save in the 16th minute.
But Thai captain Teerasil Dangda would deservedly put his team in the lead soon after, silencing the home crowd in the 23rd minute with a solo effort from within the box while surrounded by several Myanmar defenders.
Just a minute later, Thailand had a chance to make it 2-0 when Kroekrit’s effort was tipped by the goalkeeper just enough to be diverted into the crossbar.
Myanmar seemed to equalise in the 36th minute, but Maung Maung Lwin’s tap-in from a meter out was adjudged offside by the official.
In the 38th minute, Myanmar’s David Htun was shown a yellow card for his studs-out foul on Tanaboon Kesarat, a play that perhaps represented the hosts’ frustration against a superior side.
After more pressure by Thailand in the second half, Teerasil doubled the team’s lead in the 55th minute when he cooly received the ball before slotting it inside the near post.
With star striker Aung Thu rendered ineffective by the War Elephants’ strong defending, Myanmar applied some pressure through the remaining third of the match but rarely seemed composed enough to reduce the deficit, and will head into Thursday’s return leg in Bangkok needing at least three goals to advance to the final.