Thais reach final after crushing Azkals
(Chanathip Songkrasin 6, Kroekrit Thawikan 57, 87)
Thailand win 3-0 on aggregate
Thailand are through to the finals of the Suzuki Cup after sweeping aside the Philippines with a dominant 3-0 win at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok on Wednesday.
With Adisak Kraisorn suspended after picking up a red card in the first leg of the semi-finals in Manilla which ended goalless, War Elephants' head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang opted to start talented youngster Chanathip Songkrasin as a striker and the decision reaped a near instant reward after just six minutes.
The 21-year-old known as "Messi Jay" to Thai fans and media was left alone in the box to collect a Narubodin Weerawatnodom flick on and calmly slotted home to give the hosts the lead.
Chanathip (No. 18) celebrates after opening the scoring.
While the Azkals tried to come back through with efforts from Patrick Reichelt and Martin Steuble, the deficit was doubled after the break by midfielder Kroekrit Thawikan off an excellent ball from Prakit Deeprom.
The Chonburi FC man sneaked past Simone Rota to direct the ball past Patrick Deyto in the 57th minute.
To make matters worse for the visitors, Steuble received a second yellow card in the 82nd minute while challenging Prakit.
Kroekrit then sealed his brace as well as the match in the 87th minute when he cut in from the left after receiving the ball from Sarach Yooyen to slot home.
Thailand will now host the first leg of the finals and face either Vietnam or Malaysia.
The Red Jersey hold a 2-1 lead over the Tigers and will face them in Hanoi on Thursday night.