2018 World Cup Qualifying - AFC, Round Three
  • Teerasil Dangda (20', 57' PEN)
  • Mile Jedinak (9' PEN, 65' PEN)

Teerasil Dangda's brace gives Thailand first WCQ point against Australia

Teerasil Dangda was Thailand's hero as the War Elephants earned a deserved point in a 2-2 draw at home to Asian champions Australia in a thrilling Asian World Cup qualifier.

The Thais had failed to win a single point in their four Group B matches to date but hit back from conceding an early Mile Jedinak penalty to turn the game on its head through Teerasil's double.

Jedinak's second penalty rescued a point for the visitors, but it was the Thais who finished the stronger and will rue their luck not to have taken all three points.

Thailand's head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang selected Siroch Chatthong up front in a bid to add physical presence to the Thai line-up and it paid off handsomely as the Aussies struggled to contain the hulking forward and fouled him repeatedly.

Sirroch re-energised an attack that had scored just one goal in four matches, while Chanathip Songkrasin had another outstanding game in the playmaker role.

A sombre pre-match atmosphere was observed as fans paid their respects to Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, following his passing last month. But once the match was underway, chants of "Thailand, Thailand" started to echo from one side of the stadium to the other.

Australia threatened immediately after kickoff as Tom Rogic surged forward and played in Mathew Leckie, but the striker's low shot was easily held by Kawin Thamsatchanan in the Thai goal.

Unlike the previous match against Japan, there was no sluggish start from the Socceroos and the hosts conceded a penalty after just eight minutes. After a swift counter-attack, Rogic's shot from the edge of the box was pushed out by Kawin. In the resulting scramble, Leckie's effort was handled by Prathum Chuthong, who was yellow-carded.

Aussie skipper Jedinak confidently stroked home the spot kick to give the visitors the lead.

The Socceroos came close again on 13 minutes when Robbie Kruse played a smart one-two with Aaron Mooy but the Bayer Leverkusen striker's shot drifted wide. Kawin had to be alert again minutes later when Leckie fired in a shot from 20 yards but the keeper saved comfortably.

But Thailand started to exert a bit of pressure and got the equaliser through Teerasil after 20 minutes. Theerathon Bunmathan's cross from the left was headed out by Matthew Spiranovic and picked up by Chanathip on the edge of the box.

The Thai playmaker played a wonderful through ball to the overlapping Tristan Do. The wing-back's low cross was picked up by Teerasil, who found the angle to nudge the ball away from Mathew Ryan and poke his shot into an empty goal.

The War Elephants were back in the game and their confidence was up. They tested the Aussies again after 25 minutes when Teerasil broke down the right and cut the ball back for Chanathip who cut inside and fired in a low left-foot shot that Ryan dived to push wide.

After a torrid opening, the Thais were now enjoying themselves and another fine spell of pressure ended when Ryan managed to collect Chanathip's cross from the right.

Kiatisuk's ploy of starting Sirroch was paying off as the Aussie defence struggled with his strength. The Ubon UMT United striker's presence also seemed to liberate Teerasil, who was looking much more lively than in the previous few games.

But the Socceroos reminded the hosts of their quality when Rogic ran across the edge of the Thai box before firing in a thunderous drive that was just too high to trouble Kawin.

The Aussies began to reassert themselves but the Thais still looked dangerous on the break, with Chanathip and Teerasil putting together some nice moves. The hosts withstood some pressure late in the half to go in level at the break.

The Thais started the second half strongly and, after Theerathon's 30-yard free kick was headed out by the Aussie wall, Ryan had to be on his toes to punch clear Sarach Yooyen's dangerous cross from the left.

The Thais stayed on the front foot and almost took the lead in the 55th minute after some patient build-up play. Chanathip tricked his way into the box before laying the ball out to Sirroch on the left. The striker's deep cross found Do, who teed it up for Sarach but the midfielder's shot was blocked from close range.

But the pressure paid off moments later when the Thais were awarded a penalty after Leckie brought down Theerathon. Teerasil stepped up to slot home his second of the night and send the home crowd wild.

The home fans then had something to cheer at the other end when Jedinak's powerful header from Mooy's corner was brilliantly turned wide by Kawin.

But the Aussies were starting to pull themselves back in the game and yet another penalty was awarded when the referee indicated that Jedinak had been pulled back in the box. It was a contentious decision and most of the crowd were stunned to see the referee point to the spot for the third time in the match. The Aussie skipper repeated his first-half trick and fired past Kawin with 65 minutes on the clock.

Thailand hit back as they won a free kick after yet another foul on Sirroch. But Teerasil miscued his effort and Ryan gathered easily.

The hosts kept going at the Aussies without creating any clear-cut chances, while the Socceroos struggled to get any momentum going in their bid to snatch a winner as the game edged towards the final 15 minutes.

But substitute Nathan Burns burst into life in the 77th minute when he cut in from the left and rifled in a 20-yard shot that hit the top of the bar.

The home side then almost found the winning goal with just five minutes remaining. Teerasil robbed Mooy inside his own half and led a breakaway that ended with Sirroch through on goal. But the striker took the ball too far wide and Ryan came out to smother his shot.

Towards the end of the match, the Aussies showed little of the quality that had made them the best team in the continent. Thailand ended the match on top and will be both proud of a spirited performance and relieved to get a point on the board.