Siroch Chatthong is the toast of Thailand after his two goals earned the War Elephants a record fifth AFF Suzuki Cup title with a 2-0 victory over Indonesia in the second leg of the final in Bangkok.
The big striker's double gave Thailand a 3-2 aggregate triumph, and also saw head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang land his fifth crown -- three as a player and two as coach.
The defending champions were dominant throughout, and would have won more convincingly if Teerasil Dangda hadn't missed a second-half penalty. But Thai fans will forgive the striker whose six goals helped them reach the final.
There was a late red card for Indonesia when Muhammad Lestaluhu petulantly kicked the ball at the Thai bench, but it made little difference to the outcome.
Kiatisuk made three changes to the side who started the first leg by playing 2014 hero Charyl Chappuis in midfield, and Siroch in attack, while Tanaboon Kesarat returned from injury to take his place in central defence. There was just one alteration for the visitors' lineup as midfielder Zulham Zamrun replaced the injured Andik Vermansyah.
With just two minutes on the clock, Thailand had the ball in the net, but Prathum Chuthong's close-range strike was ruled offside. It was an early warning for the Garudas that the hosts wanted to take the game to their opponents.
The first clear chance fell to Teerasil after nine minutes. Theerathon Bunmathan picked him out inside the Indonesia penalty box with a fine cut-back from the left, but the striker couldn't keep his shot down.
As in the first leg, the Indonesians were working hard to close down the Thais and the hosts were becoming a little frustrated as they struggled to string passes together. It was clear that the visitors' plan was to sit back, and hit on the counter, and it worked well in the early stages.
Teerasil let his frustration get the better of him, and was lucky to escape with just a warning after swinging an elbow at Manahati Lestusen.
Instead, the first yellow card of the night went to Beny Wahyudi after he hacked down Siroch on the left wing.
Thailand came to life in the 24th minute when Teerasil surged through the middle and fed the ball into Siroch, who laid it back into the path of his strike partner. Teerasil was crowded out in the penalty area, and couldn't get a shot away, but it served as a warning.
Minutes later, the home side spurned an excellent opportunity to take the lead. Siroch harried Hansamu Pranata into rushing his clearance, and the ball fell to Tristan Do on the edge of the box. The right wing back had time to line up his shot, but drove the ball high over the bar.
Boas Salossa responded for Indonesia, however his long-range effort sailed well wide of the target.
Do had the chance to make up for his earlier miss when Chanathip Songkrasin found him with an excellent through ball on the right. But Do elected to cross instead of shoot, and the chance was gone.
But Thailand finally made the breakthrough in the 37th minute. It was a fortuitous finish at the end of an excellent move. Sarach Yooyen played the ball into Chanathip and the playmaker cushioned a beautifully weighted pass into the path of Theerathon down the left. Theerathon's low cross fell to Fachruddin Aryanto, but the defender's clearance cannoned off Siroch just outside the six-yard box, and went into the net.
The Thais began to look more confident, and Chanathip was starting to dictate the play. But the visitors held out until half-time to stay well in the game, despite being behind on away goals.
But Thailand made it 2-0 on the night in the 47th minute with a stunning strike from Siroch. Theerathon found Chanathip on the left of the penalty box, and "Messi J" made space to prod the ball through a defender's legs, and into the path of Siroch. The striker looked up, and curled a shot high into the net from 14 yards.
- AFF Suzuki Cup (@affsuzukicup) December 17, 2016
Teerasil then stung the palms of Kurnia Hermansyah with a long-range drive as the Thais went for a killer third, with a flurry of intense pressure.
The onus was now well and truly on the visitors to come out and attack, but Thailand continued to dominate. However, the Garudas had shown resilience all through the tournament, and would not be giving up without a fight.
The Thais had squandered a two-goal lead in the group stage against the same opponents before recovering to win. And the War Elephants contrived to lose the first leg of the final 2-1, having looked comfortable at 1-0 up with 25 minutes left on the clock. Kiatisuk's side knew that the final half hour would bring some pressure.
The visitors made an attacking substitution by bringing on striker Lerby Eliandry for Zulham in the 64th minute.
The game became more stretched as the Indonesians began to push more men forward. The Thais looked unsure of whether to protect their lead, or stay on the attack.
The hosts had an excellent chance to make it 3-0 in the 71st minute after excellent work from Chanathip. The Muang Thong United man stole the ball from an Indonesian player deep in the Thai half, and released Siroch with an inch-perfect pass down the right. The striker was clean through but took a heavy first touch, allowing Kurnia to come out an smother his shot.
- AFF Suzuki Cup (@affsuzukicup) December 17, 2016
The Garudas made another attacking substitution in the 74th minute, with striker Ferdinan Alfred replacing midfielder Rizki Pora.
Theerathon then had another chance to wrap up the title. After a fine solo run down the left, he tried to dink the ball over the advancing Kurnia, but the keeper got a touch.
Thailand then played the ball through the tiring Indonesia defence again and Teerasil and Chanathip exchanged passes before Teerasil tried to round Kurnia and was pulled down.
Teerasil got up to take the penalty himself in a bid to net for the seventh time in the tournament. But Kurnia saved his low strike, keeping Indonesia in the match.
Kiatisuk brought on Pokklaw Anan for Chappuis as he tried to inject fresh legs into the side for the final 10 minutes.
Indonesia pressed but failed to create any real chances, though Thai fans' hearts were in their mouths any time a high ball was delivered into the box.
There was an ugly end to the game when Muhammad Lestaluhu was sent off for kicking the ball at the Thai bench, prompting a mass pushing and shoving match. But things quickly died down as the match ticked into added time in added time.
In the end, Siroch's brace was enough for Thailand to retain their title and cement their status as the undisputed kings of ASEAN football.