KUALA LUMPUR — Vietnam booked a finals clash with Malaysia following a 2-1 second leg victory over the Philippines to gain a 4-2 aggregate win in the semifinals of the 2018 Suzuki Cup men’s football tournament Thursday in Hanoi.
Two late goals from Nguyen Quang Hai and Nguyen Cong Phuong were enough to send Vietnam to its first finals of the Southeast Asian biennial tournament since winning the trophy in 2008.
Under former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, the Philippines rarely looked like overturning the deficit from the first leg and fell to the semifinal stage for the fourth time in the last five editions.
In front of 40,000 fans, Vietnam made most of the running and had most of the chances but was unable to add to the two goals scored in the first leg until seven minutes from time.
After the two strikes in quick succession, James Younghusband pulled a goal back for the Philippines with a minute remaining.
The Vietnamese, led by South Korean coach Park Hang-seo, will be favorites to become regional champions for the second time although Malaysia pulled off a surprise result and eliminated defending champion Thailand in Bangkok on Wednesday.
The two teams met in the group stage in November with Vietnam defeating Malaysia in Hanoi, 2-0.
The first leg of the finals will take place in Kuala Lumpur on 11 December with the return match scheduled for Hanoi four days later.