BANGKOK (AFP) - A stunning strike from substitute Khairul Amri nine minutes from full time handed Singapore the Asean football championship title as they ground out a 1-1 draw with Thailand for a 3-2 aggregate win.
Singapore, the defending champions, came into the game with a 2-1 advantage from the controversial opening leg on Wednesday which was marred when Thailand stormed off the pitch for 15 minutes over a hotly disputed penalty.
Three-time Asean winners Thailand had the best of the match and looked on target to make amends for their first leg antics with a 37th-minute goal from Pipat Thonkanya, drawing them level 2-2 on aggregate.
But against the run of play Amri silenced the 30,000-strong Thai crowd with a right foot rocket past goalkeeper Kittisak Rawangpa in the 81st minute to hand them the title.
"It was a great game, a real final," said Singapore´s Serbian coach, Radovan Avramovic.
"We achieved what we wanted and that was to score a goal. We expected the pressure and we coped without any problems really.
"We missed at least three open goals and that was my only complaint -- we need to finish more clinically."
Singapore came out in an attacking frame of mind, knowing that they could not afford to sit back and let Thailand dictate the game.
Almost immediately there was more controversy, with Singapore disallowed a goal in the eighth minute when Shahril Ishak was judged offside, which television replays clearly showed was an error.
Thailand had their first clear chance 10 minutes later when a long-range shot from Datsakorn Thonglao was turned around the upright by Lions goalkeeper Lionel Lewis.
Lewis was again Singapore´s saviour four minutes later, when he pulled off a stunning instinctive save to deny Pipat Thonkanya.
Like the opening leg in Singapore, tackles were flying and Indonesian referee Jimmy Napitupulu -- who replaced Malaysia´s C. Ravichandran from the first leg -- did well to keep a lid on the game.
Thailand started taking a grip and made the breakthrough in the 37th minute.
Pipat headed down a delightful chip from Datsakorn to wrongfoot the defender and volley past Lewis to a deafening roar from the ecstatic Thai fans.
Singapore striker Noh Alam Shah had his side´s best chance 20 minutes into the second period, but his half volley into the ground was easily saved.
Fired up by the crowd, Thailand were throwing players forward and it should have been over in the 67th minute when Suchao Nutnum found himself in front of an open goal.
But Singapore right-back Mohamed Noh Rahman flung himself in front of the ball for a miraculous goal-line clearance.
It spurred the Lions on and Amri found himself on the edge of the box with Thai defenders backing off. With teammates shouting for him to shoot, he pulled the trigger and the ball flew into the right hand corner.
"Singapore deserved to win today," said Thai manager Thavatchai Sajakul.
"Wednesday´s incident had no effect on our team. We had our chances in the second half to go 2-0 up but we didn´t take them. This is football. We just have to put it behind us."
With the fallout from the first leg penalty decision still reverberating, Thailand deployed 1,500 police to the stadium.
Before the game, both managers urged fans to behave and there were no reports of trouble.
Instead, a carnival atmosphere swept through the sea of yellow that witnessed a fast-paced final that lived up to its billing.
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