SEA Games: Vietnam beat Singapore to play Malaysia in final

Vietnam rallied to thrash Singapore 4-1 in the first semi-final to book their place in the final against Malaysia, who defeated hosts Laos 3-1 in the second semi-final also on Monday.

The first semi-final match was played at the Chao Anouvong Stadium in Vientiane and the other game took place at the Main Stadium, which is the venue for the final and the third-place knock-out between Laos and Singapore on Dec. 17

Chao Anouvong was flooded by a color of red by Vietnamese fans, who cheered and screamed for their U-23 team during the game.

Vietnamese fans cheer at the Chao Anouvong Stadium in Vientiane during the Vietnam vs. Singapore game (Photo: SGGP)

Vietnam pressed Singapore from the very first whistle while lots of Vietnamese flew on the stands, where the cheering sounds came from. U-23 Singapore played very low, with only Khairul Nizam striker in the front.

The Young Lions got chances first. From a cross by Hariss Harun, unchallenged Khairul Nizam could not make a header though there was only Vietnam keeper Bui Tan Truong in the backline.

Then Vietnam striker Hoang Dinh Tung got a good chance when facing the Singapore keeper inside the smaller box but his finish was slow, hitting the Singapore defense.

In the 27th minute, Singapore took the lead as Khairul fired from a denial by keeper Truong.

Just five minutes later, midfielder Phan Thanh Hung conducted a free kick from the left. Striker Pham Thanh Binh equalized with a header.

Vietnam striker Phan Thanh Binh (R) equalizes with a header in the 32nd minute in the SEA Games match between Vietnam and Singapore in Vientiane Monday. Vietnam won 4-1. (Photo: SGGP)

Inspired by the equalizer, Vietnam played faster and higher while their fans kept cheering. A few minutes before the break, Hung broke into the Singapore defense and Mai Tien Thanh himself found a convenient position for Hung to deliver a cross. Vietnam took the lead for the first time thanks to Thanh’s finish.

Singapore started the second half with an open way and Vietnam meant to play on counter-attack. Then substitute Chu Ngoc Anh, who played as a defender in the earlier game, broadened the gap with a finish in the 69th minute while he was playing as a midfielder.

After that, Thanh Binh failed to convert a penalty into the fourth goal as his finish hit the Singapore keeper. Vietnam coach Henrique Calisto replaced Binh with striker Nguyen Ngoc Anh later, and the newcomer set the final score at 4-1 with a ground ball in the injury time.

The second semifinal ended with a 3-1 score in favor of Malaysia, who sent an early exit to defending champions Thailand a few days ago. Thailand, the eight-times winner of the Southeast Asian Games crown since 1993, were dumped out of a place in the semi-finals of the Vientiane Games when Malaysia beat them 2-1 in their final Group A match last Friday.

In the group stage, Malaysia lost 1-3 to Vietnam on Dec. 6

Malaysia’s appearance in the final is the first for the Malaysians in eight years since 2001 when they lost to Thailand in Kuala Lumpur.

By Nguyen Duc

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