Defending champions Vietnam beat Malaysia 1-0 at Viet Tri Stadium in northern Phu Tho Province on Thursday night to set up an exciting Southeast Asian (SEA) Games men’s football final against archrivals Thailand.
The game needed two extra 15-minute halves after regulation time to decide who will play the finale against the Thais, who also defeated Indonesia 1-0 after 120 minutes in the other semifinal earlier the same day.
The hosts came into the tie having not conceded a single goal in the group stage and put more pressure on Malaysia in the first half after the first 10 cagey minutes.
Malaysia had a shot on target from close range after a corner was half cleared, but Vietnamese goalkeeper Nguyen Van Toan was able to smother the effort easily.
Nguyen Tien Linh almost opened the scoring in the 27th minute as he ran down and faced Malaysian keeper Azri Ghani, but his shot drifted wide of the far post.
Linh missed another chance in the 42nd minute as he was in a convenient position to finish inside the box after a cutback from the right, but Ghani saved again, before Nham Manh Dung’s tap-in was blocked by Malaysian defenders.
The first half ended without a goal despite the clear chances.
|Vietnamese (in red) and Malaysian players vie for the ball during the men's football semifinal at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at Viet Tri Stadium in Phu Tho Province, May 19, 2022. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The two sides’ efforts to find the opener after the restart were to no avail as the second half passed dully.
Phan Tuan Tai was on for Le Van Xuan, who was stretchered off in the 72nd minute and looked in some distress.
The situation got heated on the field ten minutes later, with the referee giving Van Toan and Malaysia’s Hadi Fayyadh yellow cards.
Safwan Mazlan headed the ball across the bar after receiving a cross from a free kick, which was one of the rare scoring chances of Malaysia in the match.
Despite the four added minutes, no late winner was scored as the two teams headed for extra time.
From a free kick by Do Hung Dung, forward Linh rose to head the ball home in the 111th minute, scoring the only goal of the game as Vietnam stayed on course to defend the gold medal.
|Vietnamese players celebrate a goal in the men's football semifinal against Malaysia at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at Viet Tri Stadium in Phu Tho Province, May 19, 2022. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The hosts will take on Thailand in the final at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Sunday night while Indonesia will compete with Malaysia for the bronze medal.
The 31st SEA Games, which boast 526 categories in 40 sports, are taking place in Hanoi and 11 surrounding provinces and cities from May 12 until May 23.
The biennial event was originally scheduled from November 21 to December 2, 2021 but was postponed after Vietnam saw a flare-up of COVID-19 cases in late April the same year.
Over 7,878 athletes, coaches, and members of 11 sports delegations in Southeast Asia have registered for the event.
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