BANGKOK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Thailand struck two late goals, including a penalty, to snatch a 2-0 first-leg home win over Malaysia in the Suzuki Cup final on Wednesday which was just reward for their relentless pressure.
They broke the deadlock with 18 minutes remaining when Charyl Chappuis converted a spot kick before Kroekrit Taweekarn sealed the victory with a cool finish four minutes from time.
Thailand were always in control in an action-packed first half, dangerous on the break but nervous in front of goal, with Mongkol Thosakrai blasting over the bar after four minutes and Kroekrit finding the side netting moments later.
Malaysia rode out the storm and created several chances of their own on the counter-attack with Mohamed Amri Bin Yahyah a constant menace for the shaky Thai defence.
Thailand almost went ahead near the break, when Adisak Kraisorn got the better of the Malaysia defence but his spiralling effort was pushed wide of the post by goalkeeper Mohamed Farizal Bin Marlias.
The Thais piled on the pressure in the second half at the Rajamangala Stadium but squandered three clear chances in as many minutes, with Prakit Deeprom, Adisak and Charyl all in space but driving the ball wide or over the bar.
They finally got their break after 72 minutes when Adisak was pulled down in the box and Charyl stepped up to convert the penalty.
Kroekrit doubled the advantage in the dying moments, latching on to Chanathip Songkrasin's cross inside the area to leave Malaysia with a mountain to climb in the second leg at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Saturday. (Editing by Ken Ferris)