Vietnam capped off an important semifinal victory at the 2018 AFF Championship against the Philippines with two away goals on Sunday, making life difficult for the Azkals in the return match in Hanoi on December 6.
Despite the intense pressure on the away turf, Vietnam opened the score in the 12th minute, when Anh Duc collected a pass from Van Hau and headed the ball over the reach of the Filipino goalkeeper to seal his third goal of the tournament.
The away side then actively turned to slow-paced tactics with short passes to stretch the opponents, leaving them almost no chance to threaten Vietnamese goalkeeper Van Lam.
However, when everyone thought the first half would end with the 1-0 lead for Vietnam, Reichelt received the ball from a pass on the left swing by Filipino captain Younghusband and netted in just the second minute of extra time to bring the sides level at half-time.
The Golden Stars had gone a record 405 minutes without conceding a single goal just before that equalizer.
Only three minutes into the second half, from a pass of Trong Hoang, Van Duc beat the offside trap to face the Filipino goalkeeper before skillfully delivering a nutmeg to make it 2-1 for Vietnam.
The Philippines later increased their presence on the Vietnamese half trying to get the second equlizer. They did have few real efforts on goal, but that’s it.
In the fraught final minutes, strikers Duc Chinh and Cong Phuong had chances to widen the lead for Vietnam but both failed to convert.
The Golden Stars held on for a deserved 2-1 victory when the referee blew for full-time.
With two away goals, Vietnam now head to the return leg in Hanoi on December 6 in the driving seat.
The other first-leg semifinal between Thailand and Malaysia ended with a goalless draw on Saturday. Thailand have a temporary advantage before the second-leg game on Thai soil next Wednesday.
Vietnam won the AFF Championship, contested by ten nations affiliated to the ASEAN Football Federation, in 2008 and are hoping to claim the second title after ten years.