Thai sensation Chanathip steals show, but so does Myanmar goalkeeper Phyo
In one slick move last night, Chanathip Songkrasin reminded everyone why he's regarded as one of the region's most highly-rated youngsters.
Receiving the ball in the 78th minute, the 21-year-old BEC Tero Sasana playmaker instantly controlled the ball before finding Chananan Pombubpha with the most exquisite of passes, slicing open the Myanmar defence for his striker to stroke home the Thai Under-23s third goal and seal the SEA Games gold medal for the defending champions.
It showed off his remarkable ability, and over the course of the two weeks or so of the SEA Games football competition here, the midfield wizard gave Singaporeans an up close glimpse of what genuine young talent is.
He controlled the engine room, always made himself available to teammates, and was always willing to take on the responsibility of orchestrating his side's attacks.
Enchanting appreciative crowds in regional competitions is just the beginning for him.
According to his coach, Choketawee Promrut, Chanathip wants more.
"Players like Chanathip, talented individuals, are hungry for success.
"Everyone knows about his dream of playing in Australia, Japan, and even Europe, and hopefully, he can make it there one day.
"But today, I think he and a few others did very well, helping us to win the game."
Chanathip, reflecting on his performance, said: "I am very happy with my performance today.
"I tried my very best and I'm satisfied with the result.
"But as always, it's all about the team, and the best news is that we won the gold medal.
"In the future, this will just be another stepping stone for me.
"I'm determined to make it to Europe one day, and play regularly there.
"Hopefully, by continuing to play well, I can accomplish that dream."
At the other end of the spectrum was the man who fell victim to Chanathip's brilliance and Chananan's cold-blooded finishing for that third goal - Myanmar goalkeeper Phyo Kyaw Zin.
While he had a sturdy and compact backline to help ward off danger in the first half, Phyo, 21, was outstanding as the last line of defence, as he has been all tournament long as Myanmar made the improbable journey to the final.
As Thailand went into all out attack mode after the break, Phyo bailed his team out time and again.
He was not to blame for any of the Thai goals, indeed he saved a total of 12 shots last night.
Speaking after the match, Phyo said: "I don't bother myself with how I did in the game.
"What matters is the team, and whether we won or lost.
"I tried my best to keep us in the game, but it just wasn't enough.
"But it was a good performance overall if not for the defensive mistakes, and I'm actually proud of how we fared throughout the tournament."