AFF Suzuki Cup 2018: Vietnam edge Philippines to put one foot in final

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Vietnam moved one step closer to the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 final after claiming a 2-1 win over Philippines in the first leg of their semi-final on Sunday.

It was the Vietnamese who drew first blood at the Panaad Stadium after 12 minutes when the Philippines defence were caught napping, allowing Nguyen Anh Duc to latch on Doan Van Hau’s lovely 40-yard floated pass and send a looping header over a hapless Michael Falkesgaard.

Having taken the lead, the visitors soon settled into their rhythm and largely dominated proceedings, with the Azkals restricted to hopeful hasty balls forward that comfortably dealt with by the opposition back three.

But, just when it looked as though the Golden Dragons would head into the break with a deserved lead, the hosts delivered a sucker punch right before halftime.

A neat pass by Jovin Bedic sent Phil Younghusband racing down the left and he duly floated a perfect cross into the box, where it was met by Patrick Reichelt with a cushioned volley into the far corner.

Reichelt nets his second goal of the tournament.

However, it took Vietnam just three minutes of the second half to reclaim their advantage when the Philippines backline was caught out again.

Cutting in from the right, Nguyen Trong Hoang clipped a neat ball over the top that found Phan Van Duc, who had time his run to perfection and raced through to slot past Falkesgaard.

Reichelt had a good opportunity to level the scores once more with eight minutes remaining when he found space inside the opposition box to meet a glorious 30-yard ball from Stephan Schrock, only to send his volley narrowly over with only Dang Van Lam to beat albeit from an acute angle.

Alvaro Silva keeps a close eye on Nguyen Quang Hai.

Then, in the dying moments of the clash, Vietnam had a couple of chances to put the tie to bed.

First, Ha Duc Chinh raced through on goal but fired straight at Falkesgaard, before fellow substitute Nguyen Cong Phuong embarked on a lovely run down the left and danced his way past a couple of defenders, only to fire wide with almost the whole goal to aim for, leaving the tie evenly poised ahead of next Thursday’s second leg in Hanoi.

PHILIPPINES: Michael Falkesgaard, Adam Tull (Curt Dizon 77’), Carli de Murga, Alvaro Silva, Martin Steuble, Kevin Ingreso, Manny Ott (Mike Ott 46’), Patrick Reichelt, Jovin Bedic (James Younghusband 55’), Stephan Schrock, Phil Younghusband.

VIETNAM: Dang Van Lam, Do Duy Manh, Tran Dinh Trong, Que Ngoc Hai, Nguyen Trong Hoang, Do Hung Dung, Pham Duc Huy, Doan Van Hau, Phan Van Duc (Nguyen Cong Phuong 80’), Nguyen Quang Hai (Nguyen Huy Hung 89’), Nguyen Anh Duc (Ha Duc Chinh 65’).