REPORT: Vietnam 2 Philippines 1 (Vietnam win 4-2 on aggregate)
Hanoi: Vietnam will play Malaysia in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup final after late goals from Nguyen Quang Hai and Nguyen Cong Phuong helped secure a 2-1 victory over the Philippines in the second leg of the semi-final on Thursday to advance 4-2 on aggregate.
After a first half of few chances at My Dinh Stadium and a second period that was following a similar pattern, Quang Hai finally opened the scoring in the 83rd minute, before substitute Cong Phuong ended the Philippines’ hopes four minutes later.
James Younghusband scored a consolation goal for the Philippines in the final minute but it was Vietnam who progressed to their third final and a date with the 2010 winners Malaysia next week.
The visitors began the match knowing they needed to score at least twice to have any chance of reaching the final and they gave as good as they got in the opening 15 minutes.
Vietnam finally got the crowd off their seats in the 28th minute when Doan Van Hau broke down the left, cut back and curled in a neat ball with the outside of his left foot that Quang Hai met with an acrobatic effort that was directed straight at goalkeeper Patrick Deyto.
Quang Hai was seeing more of the ball and his strike from distance soon after hit teammate Nguyen Anh Duc, before Phan Van Duc blasted his follow-up effort high and wide.
A lovely low delivery from Van Hau was then just inches away from being finished by Quang Hai, before a superb sliding clearance from Carli de Murga denied Anh Duc an easy tap-in at the back post as Vietnam took full control of the game.
The Philippines came back into the match in the last five minutes of the half, though, and Iain Ramsay fired an effort just over from fully 30 yards as the sides went in goalless.
Sven-Goran Eriksson would likely have heard plenty about the ‘Miracle of Hanoi’ in the build-up to the game, and the Swede’s half-time job was to inspire the same kind of performance that produced the famous 2-0 victory in 2010.
But the Philippines struggled to create goalscoring opportunities and as the hour came and went, the likelilhood of any kind of repeat seemed improbable.
James Younghusband replaced de Murga midway through the half as the Philippines sought extra creativity going forward, but it was Vietnam who finally broke the deadlock with seven minutes remaining.
Van Duc cut into the penalty area from the left, skipped past Amani Aguinaldo and slid the ball to Quang Hai to tap home from inside the six yard box.
And the hosts wrapped the game up just two minutes later when Cong Phuong burst into the box with intent before getting a lucky break off Adam Reed and riffling past Deyto.
The Philippines pulled one back in the last minute when James Younghusband stabbed into the net from a few yards out following Ramsay’s corner from the right but it was too little too late as Vietnam returned to their first final since winning the competition in 2008.
Pak Hang-seo’s side will travel to Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Jalil Stadium for the first leg on December 11 before the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup champions will be crowned at My Dinh Stadium after the return meeting on December 15.