Thailand began their Suzuki Cup campaign on a winning note as first-half goals by Sutee Suksomkit and Suchao Nutnum earned them a comfortable victory over arch-rivals Vietnam in their Group B opener in Phuket.
Sutee opened the scoring with a well taken free-kick in the 34th minute and Suchao capitalised on a horrendous error by Vietnam goalkeeper Duong Hong Son on the stroke of half-time as the three-time champions cruised to all three points in rainy conditions at the Surakul Stadium.
Thailand had the better of the early chances and should have gone ahead after seven minutes when Suree Sukha centred to an unmarked Nataporn Phanrit who somehow failed to make contact with the ball from six yards out.
Duong Hong Son dived bravely to save at the feet of Suchao and tipped away a curling shot by Teerathep Winothai but had to be bailed out by his defence in the 15th minute when he flapped at the ball under challenge from Teerasil Dangda.
Vietnam had their only real attempt on goal in the half in the 27th minute when Le Cong Vinh's free-kick nicked off the defensive wall but flew straight into goalkeeper Kittisak Rawangpa's hands.
The game was littered with fouls and nasty challenges and threatened to boil over on the half-hour mark when the Thais were awarded a free-kick 20 metres from goal for Phan Van Tai Em's challenge on Teerathep.
A shoving match ensued and it took four minutes and two bookings for the Vietnamese before referee Abdul Malik Bashir was able to restore order and allow the Thais to take the kick. But Sutee kept his cool to fire a superb shot into the top-right corner despite the presence of Tai Em on the line.
Just before half-time, Nguyen Viet Thang put the ball into the Thai net but the effort was disallowed for a foul by Le Cong Vinh on Kittisak.
Worse was to follow for the Vietnamese in the third minute of stoppage time when Son's blunder gifted the Thais a second goal. There appeared to be no danger when the Vietnamese keeper came off his line to gather in a deep cross from the left by Sutee but he dropped the ball at the feet of Suchao, who coolly dispatched the ball into the net.
Suchao's strike took the sting out of the game and the second half proved a listless affair with both teams struggling to fashion opportunities in monsoon conditions.
The best opportunity of the half fell to Suchao, who was sent clear by Tana Chanabut's brilliant through-ball in the 70th minute but clipped his attempt past Son and over the crossbar.