SEA Games: Indonesia edge Malaysia on penalties to reach final

SEA Games: Indonesia edge Malaysia on penalties to reach final
Singapore lost to Thailand 0-1 in a semi-final football match

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar - Indonesia will meet Thailand in the final of the men's under-23 football at the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar after the pair triumphed in their semi-finals on Thursday.

Thailand edged past an inexperienced Singapore side, while Indonesia avenged a 2011 final defeat to their arch-rivals Malaysia.

Indonesia won 4-3 on penalties after Malaysia had clawed their way back from a goal down to take the match into extra-time.

The game finished 1-1 in normal time, with a late goal from Malaysian forward Thamil Arasu cancelling out a spectacular strike from Bayu Gatra after 30 minutes of a game which the Indonesians dominated.

Extra-time was a dour affair with both teams flagging on the large pitch at the purpose-built Zeyar Thiri stadium in Myanmar's remote capital Naypyidaw.

Malaysia had their first two penalties saved, easing the pressure on the Indonesian penalty-takers.

The win was sweet revenge for Indonesia, who lost 3-4 on penalties to their neighbours in the 2011 Games final in front of a 90,000-strong home crowd in Jakarta.

The Malaysians were bidding for their third straight SEA Games gold in the showpiece event of the hotly contested competition.

After a frantic start, the Indonesians began to assert themselves, zipping the ball across the pitch.

But neither side could craft a breakthrough, with both defences playing deep.

Bayu Gatra broke the deadlock, turning expertly on the right-hand side near the halfway line, before darting inside and playing a one-two on the edge of the box.

He then clipped the ball over the advancing Malaysian keeper.

With time running out Malaysian striker Thamil Arasu hooked the ball home from six yards after Indonesia failed to clear a low corner, sending the game into extra time.

Indonesia, who broke the hearts of local fans with a narrow 0-1 win over Myanmar to progress from the group stage at their expense, will now play Thailand in the final.

On Saturday Indonesia will try to end their SEA Games hoodoo after going more than two decades without winning gold.

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