Vietnam defeated Timor-Leste 5-3 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes on Thursday night to set up an ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) U23 Youth Championship final against archrivals Thailand.
The Vietnamese had a total of only 13 players to compete with Timor-Leste after several others tested positive for COVID-19.
While Vietnam tried to exert pressure to get an early goal, the Timorese defense did not make any mistake.
Relentless efforts from the young Golden Stars, who wanted a lead to better dictate the game and avoid another 30 minutes of extra time, with only two substitutes available, went fruitless until the stroke of half-time.
Just nine minutes into the second half, Vietnam were left with only one substitute, a goalkeeper, after captain Anh Viet went down with a knock and had to be replaced by Ho Khac Luong.
Despite pressing in the opposition half, Vietnam wasted at least three free kicks and failed to convert many chances.
Both teams then entered the 30 extra minutes, which went as uneventful as the second half, except one strange moment when Tran Liem Dieu -- the substitute goalkeeper -- came on as an outfield player, replacing Trung Thanh.
|Vietnam (white jersey) and Timor-Leste players vie for the ball during the 2022 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) U23 Youth Championship semifinals in Cambodia, February 24, 2022. Photo: Hoang Tung / Tuoi Tre|
The game was eventually decided by penalties, with Vietnam winning 5-3 to play Saturday’s final against archrivals Thailand, who had beaten Laos 2-0 in the other semi on the same night.
Meanwhile, Timor-Leste will challenge Laos for the third-place title in another tie on Saturday.
The 2022 AFF U23 Championship, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, has three groups.
Group A has hosts Cambodia, Timor-Leste, the Philippines, and Brunei while Group B includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Laos.
Indonesia and Myanmar have backed out of Group B because of a myriad of COVID-19 infections on their teams.
Vietnam and Thailand were drawn in Group C, alongside Singapore.
The top team of each group and the best runners-up, namely Timor-Leste, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, qualified for the semifinals.