|Losing battle: Vietnamese striker Le Cong Vinh (left) vies for the ball against Malaysia's Shukor Adan during their ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup's semi-final second leg. — VNS Photo Quang Thang
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam suffered a nightmare yesterday at My Dinh Stadium in Ha Noi as they were knocked out of the ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup.
Viet Nam were defeated 2-4 by Malaysia in the second-leg of their semi-final and lost 5-4 on aggregate.
Malaysia looked like a different team from the first leg yesterday, and dominated the match despite the pressure created by 40,000 Vietnamese fans.
Viet Nam were a shadow of their former selves, and were guilty of mistakes all over the field, especially in defence.
Defender Que Ngoc Hai fouled veteran striker Indra Putra in the box to give Malaysia a penalty from their very first attack in the fourth minute, which Safiq Rahim converted from the spot.
Malaysia doubled their lead after 16 minutes after the second mistake by Vietnamese defenders.
A misunderstanding between Nguyen Van Bien and goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh left the ball to Norshahrul Tahara, who slotted home.
Left back Mai Tien Thanh added to Viet Nam's woes in the 29th minute, deflecting in an own goal in an effort to block the ball.
Thanh, who scored for Viet Nam in the group stages, collapsed to the ground knowing his mistake would be costly.
Captain Shukor Adnan scored his team's fourth goal near the end of the first half with a close-range header.
Adnan met the ball in the penalty area and his header found its way between Manh and Bien, who was out of position and rooted to the spot.
The 29-year-old was Viet Nam's weak link, and despite having played for the national team for a number of years, he was made to look like an amateur yesterday.
Malaysian coach Dollah Salleh previously said that defence was essential for Viet Nam, and he was proved right after their poor performance last night.
Viet Nam's three-time Player of the Year Le Cong Vinh gave hope to the home side in the 29th and 79th minutes.
However it was not enough to pull the team up.
Viet Nam coach Toshyia Miura needed a miracle, but his three substitutes were unable to provide one, and his strikers were guilty of being wasteful in front of goal in the second half.
Vinh and Nguyen Van Quyet had at least three good chances each, but their attempts went wide or were blocked by keeper Mohd Farizal Marlias, who had a great game yesterday.
Vinh, who revealed this could be his last AFF Cup, is joint top scorer on four goals with Rahim.
"Ahead of the match, Malaysia had about a 30 per cent of chance of getting to the final. However, they improved their chances with a strong physical performance," commented Phan Anh Tu, general secretary of the Ha Noi Football Federation.
"While they played to their strengths, Viet Nam floundered. The strikers were off target and the defenders seemed sleepy," Tu added.
However, he said the players could learn from the loss and improve for future competitions with the 28th Southeast Games in Singapore is just six months.
Malaysia will play Thailand in a two-leg final. The first leg will be held on December 17 in Bangkok while the return will be three days later in Selangor.
Viet Nam and the Philippines will share third place. — VNS