Thailand snatched the ashes of defeat from the jaws of extra time last night when Vietnam claimed the AFF Suzuki Cup with the last kick (a header, in fact) of the match. Thailand had been leading for most of the game after an early Teerasil header made it 2-2 on aggregate and, for the majority of the game, Thailand looked the superior side without ever really looking like going on to get the second and probably decisive goal. However, as the final seconds ebbed away, Vietnam were awarded a fairly soft free-kick a few yards from the Thai penalty area and the ball was swung in to the box, when slack marking allowed Le Cong Vinh headed the ball on and into the net in a fashion that would have made Kevin Doyle proud (praise can come no higher, of course).
The goalscorer, who had already been booked (we had a few incidents of typical SE Asian football with wild challenges, physical confrontation and random refereeing decisions) immediately took off his shirt and began cavorting with the crowd and teammates and anyone else nearby – in Britain, that would have been two more yellow cards and even Graham Poll would have had to send him off. However, the ref blew for full-time without restarting the game, which presumably prevented him from having to act.
Some of the more entertaining sights included armed Vietnamese police tangling with people trying to get on to the pitch to congratulate the scorer (did they include squad players?) and several rows of VIP seated officials, who had looked glum throughout the game and presumably were CP members, suddenly all looking happy and shaking hands with seniors in deferential manner. The crowd, inevitably, went absolutely crazy. I can imagine how our Vietnamese students would have responded.