Thailand extended their lead in the race to reach the quarterfinals of the 2007 Asian Cup, pushing Oman further into danger of crashing out of the competition after substitute Pipat Tonkanya struck home twice to help the co-hosts defeat the visitors 2-0 at the Rajamangala National Stadium on Thursday.
|Thailand's Pipat Tonkanya (blue) vies with Oman's Fahad Ba-Masilah|
After a goalless first-half, Thailand took the lead in 70th minute when second-half substitute Pipat side-footed home Teerathep Winothai’s cross from close range before adding a second after collecting Teerathep’s header to ensure the victory of the night.
The visitors had the first half-chance of the game when keeper Kosin Hatthairattanakool safely gathered Ismail Al Ajmi’s cross in from the left.
Some Thai trickery in and around the penalty area almost saw the home side take the lead in the 20th minute, but senior striker Kiatisuk Senamuang failed to connect with Sutee Suksomkit’s pass across the face of goal.
Five minutes later, Therdsak Chaiman got his head on the end of Datsakorn Thonglao’s lofted pass but the player’s effort was off target.
Ten minutes from the interval, Said Shoon’s crunching tackle on Kiatisuk earned the Oman defender a yellow card and the Thais a free kick in a dangerous position, unfortunately Sutee wasted the opportunity by firing straight into the Oman wall.
Therdsak came close on the stroke of halftime when he fired a free kick into the side netting after Kiatisuk went down followed by a foul from Abdullah Al Wahabi, who became the fourth Omani player to be booked by referee Lee Gi-Yong.
One minute after the break, Therdsak saw his free-kick comfortably held by Omani keeper Ali Al Habsi before Sutee squared the ball to Thai skipper Tawan Sripan who blazed his shot high over the bar.
Kosin heated the game up in the 65th minute when he turned Ahmed Hadid’s curling free-kick from the left into the woodwork.
With 20 minutes to go, Thailand’s efforts finally paid off when Pipat side-footed home a Teerathep cross.
Al Ajmi flashed a header wide while Bader Mubarak tested Kosin with a superb turn and shot before Teerathep and Pipat combined again for Thailand’s second, eight minutes after they broke the deadlock.
Former Crystal Palace youth player Teerathep jumped well to head a long ball into the path of Pipat who controlled the ball with his chest before firing past Al Habsi to complete a win that put the Thais in an excellent position to go through to the last eight.