Thailand beat Vietnam 3-1 to win King's Cup
BANGKOK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Thailand romped to a 3-1 victory over arch rivals Vietnam on Saturday to win the annual King's Cup tournament for the first time in six years.
Buoyed up by one of the biggest Thai soccer crowds in recent years, the hosts controlled the match from the start and sealed victory with goals from Sutee Suksomkit, Pipat Tonkanya and Suchao Nuthnum.
Thai coach Charnwit Pholcheewin said he was delighted with his team's performance having had only nine days to prepare for the tournament.
'It was a great team effort overall, the attack, midfield and defence,' he told reporters. 'I'm happy with the way we've played here.
'Vietnam made it tough by playing a defensive game, that's why it took us so long to score.'
The Thais' relentless efforts paid off on 38 minutes when Sutee cannoned home a loose ball after the Vietnamese keeper had parried both his initial effort and a 15-metre drive from Datsakorn Thonglao.
Pipat increased the lead five minutes later after sliding in to convert Punnarat Klinsukon's low cross from the left-hand side.
Veteran captain Kiatisak 'Zico' Senamuang, recalled to the national team after an absence of almost three years, was a constant menace for the Vietnamese defence, combining well with Sutee and Datsakorn and playing a part in almost all the host's chances.
The Vietnamese pulled back a goal on 68 minutes when Phan Thanh Binh found the net from five metres out, but the Thais responded less than a minute later when Suchao fired a low drive into the left-hand corner.
Vietnam's Austrian coach Alfred Riedl said his team were not at their best and admitted they were outplayed by the hosts.
'They were better than us, but we could have played better,' he told reporters.
'We were in third gear throughout the game and when they had the ball they were so much better than us.
'It's always the same - my players can't play to their full potential.'
This year's tournament had added significance in Thailand, where the trophy's revered donor, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is celebrating his 60th year on the throne.
The final attracted a near-capacity crowd, dressed mostly in the royal colour yellow, who lit candles and sang royal anthems before invading the pitch and mobbing the players after the trophy was presented.