Hoang Anh Gia Lai defeated Vietnam 3-2 in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw in the Thanh Nien U21 International Football Championship semifinal in Ho Chi Minh City Thursday.
“Both teams contributed to a good match with many goals. Vietnam had a strong defense, which caused us difficulties,” HAGL coach Nguyen Quoc Tuan said.
At the Thong Nhat Stadium, HAGL played an attacking brand of football like Tuan had promised earlier when he said attack would be the best defense.
Cong Phuong scored for then off a free kick in the 10th minute.
In the 36th minute Xuan Manh leveled the score for Vietnam, a team chosen from this year's U21 National Championships, after getting to a ball that bounced out from Lam Ti Phong’s shot.
It was Phong who scored the second goal for Vietnam in the 44th minute following a slick free kick.
In the 78th minute HAGL leveled the scores with an impressive strike from Cong Phuong, the young forward who will play in Japan’s J-League 2 next year, who passed several defenders before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Quang Tuan.
In the final, HAGL will play the winner of the other semifinal between South Korea and Singapore at 6 p.m. Friday (November 27).