Making news

Vietnam through to AFF Cup final

Nguyen Quang Hai (Number 19) opened the scoring for Vietnam at the 83rd minute. Photo: VNA

Football fans erupted in joy across Vietnam yet again last night, as the national side booked a place in the final of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup.

A 2-1 second leg win at Hanoi’s My Dinh National Stadium was enough to book the 2008 winner’s place in the final, after a 2-2 draw in the first leg in the Philippines on Sunday.

All three goals came in the final seven minutes, with midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai and striker Nguyen Cong Phuong scoring one each for the hosts while substitute James Younghusband scored for the visitors.

The 4-2 aggregate win means Vietnam will face Malaysia, who beat Thailand in the other semi, in the final.

The visiting team started the night on the attack, as the Philippines’ coach Sven Goran Eriksson set out his side to overturn Việt Nam’s away goals advantage.

The away side had more than 60 per cent of possession in the first 20 minutes, but struggled to create any clear-cut openings.                                                          

The hosts got the sell-out crowd off their seats in the 28th minute when Doan Van Hau broke down the left, cut back and curled in a neat ball that Hai met with an acrobatic effort that was directed straight at goalkeeper Patrick Deyto.

Star man Hải began to see more of the ball and his strike from distance soon after bounced off teammate Nguyen Anh Duc, before Phan Van Duc blasted his follow-up effort high and wide.

Soon after, a low delivery from Hau was inches away from being finished by Hai, before a superb sliding clearance from Carli de Murga denied Anh Duc an easy tap-in at the back post as Vietnam took control of the game.

The Philippines came back into the match in the last five minutes of the half and Iain Ramsay fired an effort just over from 30 yards as the sides went in goalless.

Both Eriksson and Vietnam’s South Korean coach Park Hang-seo made changes in the second half, seeking the crucial opening goal. However the two teams cancelled each other out for most of the second half.

It would be the hosts who opened the scoring in the 83rd minute, with Van Duc’s left wing cross tapped in by Hai, who found himself unmarked mere yards from the goal.

Vietnam doubled their lead three minutes later, as substitute Phuong fired in a powerful left foot shot at the near post, effectively sealing the home side’s place in the final.

Younghusband netted from a corner two minutes from time, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation.

Hai was named man of the match and won a bonus of VNĐ150 million (US$6,400) from local company Eurowindow for opening the scoring.

"It is a wonderful game when teams are playing well. This win is for our great supporters. We will rest and enjoy it a little bit before coming back to prepare carefully for the final," said Hai.

The final is a rematch from the group stages, when Vietnam defeated Malaysia 2-0.         
The first leg will be at Bukit Jalil Stadium in Malaysia on December 11 and the regional champions will be crowned at My Dinh Stadium four days later.