BACOLOD CITY (2 Dec 2018) – Vietnam took a huge step for a place in the finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup this year when they beat the Philippines 2-1 in the first leg semifinals that was played at the Panaad Park and Stadium tonight.
The winners ten years ago scored a goal in each half as the Philippines replied in between for the final scoreline as both teams will now look forward to the return tie in four days.
“We played against a very good team. And against such an organised team, we cannot afford to concede so easily. They just got behind our backline too easily,” said Philippines head coach Sven Goran Eriksson.
“I thought that we were still in the game up until their second goal. And by then, it was already very difficult to come back.”
In the game between two physical teams, the fight was always going to be close as Philippines were all eager to find the goals while Vietnam were not as defensive as many thought they would be.
Instead it was Vietnam who matched the Philippines ball for ball as Qatar referee Abdulrahman Ibrahim Al-Jassim allowed the handful of exchanges.
With Martin Steuble coming in for the absent Daisuke Sato, the usual sting was lacking down the right although the lack of defensive urgency put the Philippines under the pressure at times.
And just 12th minutes in, Vietnam punished this lackadaisical defending with Honor Man of the Match Phan Va Duc providing the cross with the lanky Nguyen Anh Duc heading in a glancing header past an out of position Michael Falkesgaard.
The game was restricted to mostly at the centre of the park up until the last seconds of the first half.
As it turned out, striker Phil Younghusband might not have scored tonight but he turned provider with a cross that was well met by the waiting Patrick Reichelt to put both teams on level terms.
Incidentally, it was the first time that Vietnam had conceded a goal in the competition so far.
But just three minutes into the second half, the Philippines found themselves behind yet again when Van Duc beat the offside trap as hre latched on to a clever chip from Nguyen Trong Hoang.
The change for James Younghusband gave the Philippines some options but it failed to inspire the team for the second goal of the game while for Vietnam they kept to the pace alongside the introduction of the wily Nguten Cong Phuong.
Reichelt came close at the tail end of the game while substitute striker Ha Duc Chinh just lacked that extra finish to put the game beyond contention.
“It is disappointing to concede a goal but there is no such thing as a perfect game,” added Vietnam head coach Park Heng-seo afterwards.
“We were very well prepared for this game and we anticipated the Philippines attack pattern.”