Vietnam favourites to reach AFF final

BACOLOD (Philippines) • Vietnam put themselves in a strong position to reach their first AFF Suzuki Cup final in a decade, beating the Philippines 2-1 in the first leg of their semi-final yesterday.

The 2008 Asean champions grabbed the initiative after only 12 minutes at the Panaad Stadium. Doan Van Hau's lofted ball caught out the defence for Nguyen Anh Duc to send a looping header over goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard.

The hosts got back on level terms in first-half added time, when Phil Younghusband's cross set up Patrick Reichelt to volley home from close range.

But they were caught cold again at the start of the second half. Vietnam broke their offside trap to take a lead home, courtesy of Phan Van Duc, for Thursday's return game at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium.

The winning side will meet Malaysia or two-time defending champions Thailand, who drew 0-0 in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, in the final of South-east Asia's biennial premier football tournament. The title tie will be played over two legs on Dec 11 and 15.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2018, with the headline 'Vietnam favourites to reach AFF final'. Print Edition | Subscribe