HONG KONG: Malaysia fought back from going two goals behind to secure a 2-2 draw with Vietnam in the first leg of the Asean Football Federation Championship final yesterday.
Vietnam go into Saturday’s return leg in Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium as favourites, however, thanks to their two away goals.
Both nations are attempting to win the regional title for only the second time.
After weathering a strong start by the hosts the Vietnamese raced into a two-goal lead by the 25th minute.
Phan Van Duc hit the Malaysians on the break when he latched on to Doan Van Hau’s lofted pass before sending in a low centre that eventually ended up at the feet of Nguyen Huy Hung, and he slotted his deflected shot beyond goalkeeper Farizal Marlias.
Pham Duc Huy made it 2-0 soon after when his shot from distance gave Farizal little chance.
With the vociferous backing of the majority inside the Bukit Jalil Stadium, Malaysia found a way back into the game nine minutes before the interval when Shahrul Saad charged into the six-yard box to head Saymer Kutty Abba’s curling free kick home.
Malaysia were level on the hour as Safawi Rashid stepped up to curl a free kick from the edge of the area around the wall and beyond the outstretched arms of Dang Van Lam.
Malaysia reached the final on away goals after a 2-2 draw with holders Thailand in the semi-final, second leg last week as Adisak Kraisorn missed a late penalty for the hosts in Bangkok.
Vietnam entered the final after a 2-1 second leg victory over the Philippines in Hanoi gave them a 4-2 aggregate win in their semi-final.