AFF SUZUKI CUP FINAL
Vietnam 1 Malaysia 0 (Vietnam win 3-2 on aggregate)
HANOI • An early goal by Nguyen Anh Duc proved decisive as Vietnam beat Malaysia 1-0 at the My Dinh National Stadium yesterday to lift the AFF Suzuki Cup for the second time.
The Vietnamese had allowed a two-goal lead to slip to a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Kuala Lumpur last Tuesday.
But Vietnam were determined to press home their home advantage early on and Duc restored their advantage when he volleyed home from close range after only six minutes.
However, they had to survive several scares as goalkeeper Dang Van Lam made a series of fine saves to preserve Vietnam's lead, with Park Hang-seo's men winning 3-2 on aggregate to claim the Asean Football Federation title for the first time since 2008.
Vietnam had the benefit of two away goals from the first leg and they made an excellent start in Hanoi, taking the lead when Nguyen Quang Hai's chip from the left found Duc, whose volley was too powerful for goalkeeper Farizal Marlias to keep out of his net.
The hosts had to be indebted to a stellar display from Lam, who was called into action just before half-time to tip Syahmi Safari's first-time effort over his crossbar.
He showed fine reflexes again after the break to claw Mohamadou Sumareh's header away to safety, before making another fine save to keep out Safawi Rasid's free kick.
Ten players - six Vietnamese and four Malaysians - were booked in the scrappy encounter, which culminated in the dismissal of Shahrul Saad in added time when he received his second yellow card after committing a foul on the halfway line to snuff out a counter-attack.
Hai, who scored three goals and was an ever-present for Vietnam in the tournament, was named the Most Valuable Player as Malaysia's dream of their second title since 2010 ended.
Malaysia coach Tan Cheng Hoe admitted that Vietnam's early goal "destroyed" his plans for the game and "affected the players' confidence".
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the Harimau Malaya should "look at this as an experience to improve themselves". "I am convinced that with a little more effort, we have the potential to win matches to come," he said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BERNAMA