Laos kicked off their 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-2 victory over neighbours Cambodia at the New Laos National Stadium in Vientiane on Sunday.
Following a goalless first half, the hosts took the lead ten minutes after the break when Khonesavanh Sihavong escaped the clutches of Say Piseth and Rous Samoen to latch onto a long ball and fire past Sou Yaty.
They then doubled their advantage 15 minutes later when Khampheng Sayavutthi timed his run to perfection to meet Soukaphone Vongchiengkham’s left-wing cross and finished into the far corner.
However, the Cambodians pulled one back in the 73rd minute after Khoun Laboravy received possession and cut inside Ketsada Souksavanh, before lashing his shot into the back of the net.
And just two minutes later, the Royal Khmers remarkably pulled level as Laboravy turned provider; causing all sorts of problems for the opposition defence before squaring the ball for Sok Chanrasmey to turn home with his knees.
But just when it looked like a draw was on the cards, Laos went on to claim maximum points as Khampheng emerged as the hero by lining up a freekick on the edge of the box and unleashing a stunning strike into the bottom corner for the winner.
In Sunday’s earlier game, Timor Leste claimed top spot after recording a 4-2 triumph over Brunei.
The Timorese had initially edged ahead through Murilo de Almeida’s sixth-minute opener, only for Adi Said to cancel it out with a goal of his own five minutes after the half-hour mark.
Tebuan then went in front four minutes before halftime after Awangku Fakharazzi was left with a simple finish past Ramos Maxanches, but their opponents were able to respond in the 70th minute when Murilo struck again after latching onto an over-the-top and slotting past Wardun Yussof.
Murilo then completed his hat-trick ten minutes later as he once again raced in behind the opponents’ defence to score, before Patrick Fabiano made sure of the victory with a neat finish two minutes from time.
Sunday’s 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifying Results
Timor Leste 4-2 Brunei
Laos 3-2 Cambodia