AFF U23 Championship

AFF U23 Championship: Vietnam hold their nerves to beat Timor-Leste in tiebreakers

3:30 PM GMT 24/02/2022
Hoang Vo Vietnam U23
Even a second-string Vietnam outplayed Timor-Leste for most of the match...

Vietnam advanced to the final of the AFF U23 Championship after defeating Timor-Leste in tiebreakers at the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Thursday evening. Both teams were locked at 0-0 after 120 minutes of excruciating football and in the end, Jhon Oliveira's miss from the spot proved costly for The Raising Sun as they lost 5-3.

However, Fabio Silva's men started the match with intensity and purpose against a depleted Vietnam who could name only 13 players in the matchday squad. Zenivio Mota and Oliveira made their side tick with a quick interchange of passes and sudden attempts on goal.

However, with time Vietnam started to get a foothold in the match. Dinh Hai Vu was playing with extra responsibility in the absence of some of the key players. Although he started up front alongside Nguyen Hoang Ho, he would often drop deep to create chances and be more involved.

In the 35tth minute, Vietnam opened up Timor-Leste's backline with some quick-fire passing. Trung Thanh set up Dinh Hai on a platter just outside the box and the latter wrapped his laces around the ball in a bid to break the deadlock. But his attempt went down the keeper's throat and Junildo Pereira had little trouble in grasping the ball.

Vietnam further upped the ante in the final minutes of the first half. Dinh Hai drilled in a low cross in the path of Hoang who shot it first time. The ball might have touched Joao Soares' arm that led to a vehement penalty appeal from the Vietnamese but the referee was not convinced.

The onslaught continued in the second half as well. It looked like a matter of when and not if, Vietnam would break the deadlock. In the 56th minute, Hoang delivered an accurate through ball for Trung Thanh but the midfielder's attempt went inches wide of the far post. Around the hour mark, coach The Nam Dinh sacrificed a defender and packed in an extra player in midfield to further tighten the screws.

In the final quarter, Timor-Leste slowly started to break away from the shackles in their bid to take the game to the opposition. Paulo Gali was proving to be a menace with his darting runs behind the defence and even tested the Vietnam keeper on a couple of occasions.

In the dying minutes of regulation time, Vietnam got a couple of more opportunities ut could not convert them and hence the match went into extra time. It was once again the Golden Star Warriors who had the better chances in the next 30 minutes but profligacy in front of goal did not help their cause.

Finally, in tiebreakers, Vietnam converted all of their five spot kicks whereas, Oliveira's attempt was saved by Dang Tuan Hung by diving to his left. This made the difference between the two sides after an intense battle on the pitch. Vietnam will now face Thailand in the final on Saturday, whereas Timor-Leste will lock horns against Laos in the third-place playoff on the same day.