AFF Suzuki Cup final: Malaysia fight back to rescue a draw
Harimaru Malaya and Vietnam’s Golden Dragons finished with two goals each on the first leg of the final.
Malaysia and Vietnam will go into Saturday's Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018 Final second match all square following a 2-2 draw in their first meeting at a packed Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday night.
Malaysia had the first effort on goal when Syamer Kutty broke free on the left to find captain Zaquan Adha in the area; missing the first opportunity to open the score in the match.
At the 22nd minute, the visitors were the ones who opened the score with a goal from Nguyen Huy Hung. Phan Van Duc's surging run down the left flank resulted in a leftwing cross that Malaysia's Nazirul Naim could only poke clear as far as the onrushing Nguyen Huy Hung, who drove a shot into the unprotected net.
With Malaysia still reeling from going a goal down, Vietnam doubled their lead two minutes later when Van Duc won the ball on the edge of the area before teeing up Pham Duc Huy who saw his stunning long-range effort sail past the outstretched arms of Farizal Marlias into the bottom right-hand corner.
The score could have been easily 3-0, but it didn’t thanks to the fast reflexes of Malaysia’s goalie.
Six minutes later, Shahrul Saad leapt to head home Syamer's wicked inswinging freekick from wide on the left, to restore the cacophonous noise amongst the Harimau Malaya support ahead of half-time.
Vietnam went close to restoring their two-goal advantage 12 minutes after the restart, but once again Malaysia was safe by the impressive reaction of Farizal.
The away side’s prolificacy was punished almost immediately after Malaysia’s Safawi Rasid was fouled to the right of the area by defender Doan Van Hau. However, he stepped up to shape a superb free-kick around the Vietnam wall and into the opposite corner past Van Lam, scoring the home side’s second goal.
Safawi had a chance to repeat his magic deep into stoppage time with a free-kick from distance, but this time Van Lam's fine save, flying to his right, kept the ball out and ensured the match would finish as a stalemate.
The 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup will be decided on 15 December at Hanoi’s My Dinh National Stadium.