Kuching: Laos advanced to the semi-final of the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 on Wednesday evening as a 3-0 win over Mongolia at Sarawak Stadium moved Valakone Phomphakdy’s side into the tournament’s last four.
Sitthideth Khanthavong and Khouanta Sivongthong scored in the first half to give their side a comfortable lead before Xaisongkham Champathong netted seven minutes from time as Laos bounced back from their loss to Macau in the previous round of matches.
The win means Laos finish in second place in Group B, three points clear of the Mongolians to join group winners Macau in the next phase of the competition, where they will take on Group A winners Nepal. Macau will play Brunei Darussalam.
Mongolia knew a draw would be enough to move them into the semi-finals following their win over Sri Lanka in the previous round of matches, but the East Asian side rarely threatened in a first half dominated by the Laotians.
Mongolian coach Toshiaki Imai made one change to the side that defeated the Sri Lankans 2-0 on Sunday, with Batbilguun Ganbaatar replacing Gankhuyag Serodyan while Laos made a pair of switches, as Khamphoumy Hanevilay and Khouanta started ahead of Sisawad Dalavong and Phouthone Innalay.
Laos took the lead after just seven minutes when Sitthideth converted from the penalty spot after Sangvone Phimmasen had been brought down in the box by goalkeeper Ariunbold Batsaikhan when he latched on to Sitthideth’s perfectly weighted through ball from midfield.
The South East Asian nation continued to control proceedings with Vongdalasene Sayoulasouk shooting straight at Batsaikhan before sending his free kick from outside the area over the bar as the Mongolians struggled to handle Laos’ pace and movement.
In the 21st minute, Laos doubled their lead when Khouanta unleashed an unstoppable right foot shot from outside the area that gave Batsaikhan little chance after the Mongolia defence had failed to fully clear a corner.
Khouanta tried his luck again with another free kick 10 minutes before the break, only for the ball to go over the bar, while Sitthideth should have put the result beyond any doubt on the stroke of halftime, but headed high above the target from close range.
Laos continued to dictate the rhythm of the game in the second half and substitute Xaisongkham headed just wide while Sangvone sent his attempt well over the bar before Xaisongkham put the result beyond doubt in the 83 minutes when he headed Keoviengpheth Lithideth’s corner home.