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Vietnam ends Suzuki Cup frustrations against Azkals with 3-1 win

Ivan Saldajeno (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

Vietnam finally put to rest two straight AFF Suzuki Cups of heartbreaks against the Philippines with a 3-1 win in front of a sold-out crowd at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

Ngo Hoang Trinh opened the scoring for the hosts after taking advantage of a defensive lapse on the part of the Azkals in the ninth minute and immediately put the loud Vietnamese crowd to its feet.

Despite the Azkals toughening up on defense later in the first half, Vietnam saw another crack early in the second half, specifically the 51st minute, and Vu Minh Tuan was left all alone against Patrick Deyto at the right flank for the team's second goal.

Seven minutes later, Phama Tuah Luong sealed the win for the Vietnamese as he fired a left flank goal that curved to the left and found the net anew.

Paul Mulders scored the consolation goal for the Azkals before the hour mark.

The victory catapulted Vietnam to the top spot in Group A with seven points, while relegating the Azkals, who booked the first semifinal ticket with a win over Indonesia on Tuesday, to second with six points.

The win also put to an end any hope of the Indonesians to snatch a spot in the Final Four despite getting the needed winning scoreline to have a chance of making it.

Indonesia blasted Laos, 5-1, in the other Group A match, to finish its stint in third place with four points.

The Vietnam win also, in a way, made up for the heartbreaking head-to-head losses it had against the Azkals in the Suzuki Cup, including a stunning 2-0 upset in front of the same home crowd in 2010 which became the start of the Azkals' surge to the top of Southeast Asian football scene.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines will await the other two semifinalists, which will be determined by the last pair of games in the group stage tomorrow.

Thailand will face Myanmar, while Singapore and Malaysia collide in the two games scheduled to kick off simultaneously at 8:00 PM.

Vietnam will face the second-placed team in Group B, while the Philippines will take on the winner of the said group.

The Azkals will first play hosts in the two-game series which will begin on December 6.

The PFF mulled at a possibility of debuting the newly-completed Philippine Sports Stadium just beside the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan for the said game.