VIENTIANE (16 Nov 2018) – Myanmar were forced to battle from a goal down once again before securing a hard-fought 3-1 win over Laos and claim the top spot in Group A. In their previous match against Cambodia, Myanmar also conceded first before winning.
With six points in the bag and a superior goal difference, Myanmar lead the standings ahead of Vietnam, who defeated Malaysia in another group tie in Hanoi tonight. Vietnam and Malaysia also have six points apiece.
Laos, whose defeat tonight was their third, surprised with a 14th minute goal from Phoutone Innalay. But Myanmar were even in the 45th minute when star striker Aung Thu smashed in the equaliser. Htet Phyoe Wai made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute before Maung Maung Lwin sealed the victory in the 84th minute.
For Laos, it was heartbreak again for them. After turning in a grand performance where they snatched the lead, as they had against Malaysia, Laos walked away on the losing end again. “The score was not a true reflection of the game, I was disappointed, we should have got a point, or even win,” said V. Sundramoorthy, the Laos coach.
Myanmar coach Antoine Hey was delighted with the way his team bounced back to grab their second win of the tournament thus far. “Obviously we are happy to have six points and take over at the top, at least for now. It was hardwork today, much harder than I had expected. The team started slow and we had to invest a lot of energy to get back.
Hey said a tactical change later in the first half turned the tide. Myanmar brought in Phyoe Wai and moved some players around. The change was almost instantaneous with Myanmar levelling the score at the end of the half. “It’s the second game that we were down, we had to make a tactical change to get back.”
The home side went against the flow and caught their opponents off-guard when they knocked in the opener early through a crisp strike from Phoutone. Myanmar, stunned by an opening goal from Cambodia before recovering to win the game, were not bothered by the setback and continued pressuring their opponents.
With the half all but over, Myanmar launched one more assault and were rewarded for refusing to give up. Htet Phyoe Wai, who replaced fellow striker, Aee Soe in the 42nd minute, set up Aung Thu in the centre of the box and he whipped it in to level the score.
Although it was Myanmar in control, Laos managed several chances to get ahead but Phouthone and Phithack Kongmathilath failed to get their shots in. While Phoutone, coming in from the right, saw his low shot sail just wide, Phithack fell in despair as his attempt scrapped the right post.
Their misses would haunt them as Myanmar pulled ahead in the 72nd minute when a low drive from Phyoe Wai crashed into the far corner, just beyond the fingertips of the diving Outhlath.
Despite trying their best to stop the attacks, Myanmar were soon celebrating again. In a quick counter-attack, Maung Maung Lwin stormed past the defence for an easy tap in.