Thailand secured their second consecutive victory in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers Final Round, with a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka, at the Markaziy Stadium on Saturday.
Thitipan Puangchan put Thailand ahead in the first half, with Worachit Kanitsribampen sealing the points with his goal in stoppage time as Thailand set themselves up nicely for the showdown with hosts Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
Only the six group winners are assured of a place in the Finals, with the five best second-placed sides to also advance to the 24-team Finals.
Thailand came into the tie looking to build on their 3-0 opening day win over Maldives, while Sri Lanka were aiming to bounce back from their defeat to Uzbekistan with a similar score line.
The War Elephants dominated the early proceedings, forcing Sri Lanka Captain Sujan Perera into early action, with the shot stopper foiling Sarach Yooyen’s long ball into the area in the second minute before tipping Theeraton Bunmathan’s free-kick over the bar four minutes later.
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At the other end, Sri Lanka almost caught Thailand off-guard when Dillon De Silva pounced on a through ball but with only the keeper to beat, the defender fired his effort high above the bar.
Thailand continued to press with their attacking frontline of Teerasil Dangda and Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul and eventually found the breakthrough in the 34th minute when Thitipan easily slotted home from close range, finishing off Phitiwat’s cutback as the Southeast Asian side took a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Perera showed his acrobatic skills when he kept Sri Lanka in the game eight minutes into the restart, when he scrambled the ball off the line following Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom’s effort from close range.
Thailand wasted another opportunity to increase their advantage in the 57 minute with Theeraton sending his free-kick over the bar but finally sealed the win with Worachit finishing off Chayawat Srinawong’s pass.