|2 FAST, 2 FURIOUS: Nguyễn Tiến Linh rose above opposition defenders, and his critics to deliver a stunning performance for Việt Nam at home. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Linh
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam are through to their second AFF Cup final in five years, after defeating Indonesia 2-0 in the second leg of the semifinal on Monday.
Striker Nguyễn Tiến Linh scored a brace, with two early goals in each half to seal Việt Nam's ticket to the final.
More than 23,000 fans were at the Mỹ Đình National Stadium to cheer on Park Hang-seo's Golden Star Warriors.
"This could be my last match if we lose tomorrow," said Park in a pre-match press conference on Sunday. "If we win, I will have two more matches to work with. So I and the team are fully prepared for the match," Park added.
And indeed Park had his best preparation, best squad and the best crowd for the match. Hồ Tấn Tài returned to the starting eleven, replacing Vũ Văn Thanh, who was heavily criticised for his performance in the first leg.
Tài's appearance brought back creativity on the right wing, and Việt Nam played much better than three days ago in Jakarta. From inside Việt Nam's half, Đỗ Hùng Dũng punted a long ball that found Nguyễn Tiến Linh up front.
Linh, another figure under the scrutiny of the media, subbed off early in the first leg and almost did not feature on Monday due to a minor injury, sprinted past two Indonesian defenders before volleying into Nadeo Argawinata's net, opening the scoring for Việt Nam in the third minute.
Việt Nam were all over Indonesia in the first half, creating opportunities from long balls and counters. Indonesia had no real answer nor a dangerous chance, unlike in the first leg at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Near the break, Việt Nam had some late chances to double their lead, but Phạm Tuấn Hải could not capitalise.
The men in red, however, carried that late momentum into the opening minutes of the second half.
Just seconds after regretting a golden chance for Tuấn Hải which was stopped by former Premier League defender Jordi Amat, the Vietnamese fans in Mỹ Đình had something to cheer.
From the resulting corner taken by Hùng Dũng, Tiến Linh rose above four Indonesian defenders to head in Việt Nam's second goal, just two minutes after the restart.
This is Linh's fifth goal in the 2022 AFF Cup, which brought him on par with this tournament's current top scorer Teerasil Dangda of Thailand.
With two goals in the pocket, Park sought to protect the score line and rested key players in attack.
However, Việt Nam were still deadly on the counters, as well as in long balls. Đoàn Văn Hậu, a polarising player during this tournament, delivered many key passes towards Indonesia's final third. Tuấn Hải, Tiến Linh and Quang Hải had many great opportunities to score Việt Nam's third goal but lacked finesse in their final touch.
Shin Tae-yong's pre-match mind games seemed to have backfired as his team lacked ideas and the mentality to find Đặng Văn Lâm's goal. Their statistic of zero shots on target probably summarised their game: all talk, no action.
The play slowed down during the final minutes and Việt Nam ended the match with a 2-0 victory. This was Việt Nam's first win against Indonesia in the 27-year history of the AFF Cup.
Park Hang-seo will have two more final matches for his last dance with Việt Nam, and his Golden Star Warriors awaiting the winner of the match between Malaysia and Thailand on Tuesday, with Malaysia leading 1-0 on aggregate. — VNS