Azkals bow to Viets in first leg of semis
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Vietnam sent the Philippine Azkals to the brink after hammering out a 2-1 victory last night in the first leg of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup semifinals at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.

The Golden Dragons struck with two early goals in each half to nullify Patrick Reichelt’s milestone goal for Phl and take a huge upperhand heading into the return match of the Last-4 on Thursday over in their home territory in Vietnam.

For the Azkals to overcome this huge deficit and steal their way to a historic finals appearance, they need to pull off another “Miracle in Hanoi” and beat the Golden Dragons by at least a 2-0 scoreline to save their campaign.

“I think we played rather well but if you want to beat a very good team like Vietnam, it won’t be enough,” said Azkals coach Sven Goran Eriksson. “We conceded two unlucky goals, it was too easy to score for them. But there’s still 90 minutes to go, we’ll try.” 

The quick and physical Vietnamese seized control 12 minutes in with Nguyen Anh Duc delivering a looping header past Phl custodian Michael Falkesgaard to stun the hosts’ supporters among the 5,489 crowd.

The Philippines asserted themselves possession-wise and created opportunities until Reichelt, on the receiving end of a perfectly-timed delivery from Phil Younghusband, slotted in the equalizer to the delight of the home fans. It was also the Filipinos' first-ever goal in four semifinal appearances.

Vietnam, though, restored the lead three minutes after resumption with Phan Van Duc beating the offside trap to the fire go-ahead.

Falkesgaard would make a couple of saves to allow the Philippines to stay in the game but attempts at the equalizer by Younghusband, Reichelt and Stephan Schrock fell short.

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