Laos 1 Cambodia 0
Yangon: Visay Phaphouvannin scored the only goal of the game late in the first half as Laos began their AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Indochinese rivals Cambodia on Sunday.
In a game of numerous missed opportunities by both sides at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon, the Laotians broke the deadlock five minutes before half-time when Visay slotted home easily after a handling error by Cambodia goalkeeper Sou Yaty.
Phourng Soksana had earlier missed a glorious opportunity in a one-on-one with Laos goalkeeper Sengphachan Bounthisanh as Cambodia remained pointless after two matches and bottom of the Qualification Round group.
Meanwhile, Laos moved up to three points, three behind leaders Myanmar, who beat Timor Leste 2-1 in a match played earlier on Sunday.
With Khonesavanh Sihavong and Vilayout Sayyabounsou providing width on both flanks, the Laotians showed plenty of attacking intent early on.
After eight minutes, Khonesavanh made a piercing run down the left flank and put in a dangerous low cross that saw the ball ricochet off the legs of a couple of Cambodian defenders and deflect towards the goal before Sou Yaty managed to safely gather it.
The Cambodians preferred to sit back and play on the counter but they went close in the 16th minute when Sos Suhana sent in a dangerous free kick that was punched away by Sengphachan.
Cambodia then had a glorious opportunity to take the lead in the 28th minute as Khim Borey slipped a superb defence-splitting pass through to Soksana, who beat the Laotian offside trap but fired the ball straight at the legs of Sengphachan.
At the other end, Yaty was kept busy as he stopped efforts by Kovanh Namthavixay and Sopha Saysana although on both occasions he failed to hold on to the ball and gratefully watched his defence hack it clear.
But the Cambodian goalkeeper’s poor handling was punished in the 40th minute when he failed to hold on to a free-kick by Khonesavanh Sihavong, which allowed Viengsavanh Sayyaboun to cut the ball back from the left byline for Visay to fire the ball into the unguarded net.
If Yaty was at fault for that goal, he made some amends in the 50th minute when he tipped over a fine curling effort by Sopha from the edge of the Cambodian box.
On the hour mark, Cambodian substitute Chhin Chhoeun was denied twice from close range at the other end as his first shot was well saved by Sengphachan before his follow-up from point-blank range was heroically blocked by Kovanh.
Visay then made a neat run into the Cambodian box and got away a weak bobbling shot that Yaty was lucky to stop with his sprawling legs.
Soukaphone Vongchiengkham should have put the game away with 15 minutes left when he found himself in space 10 metres from goal but saw his shot superbly saved by Yaty.
But Cambodia failed to capitalise on their let-off shortly afterwards when Say Piseth nodded the ball towards the goalmouth where Phourng headed over the crossbar.