Hanoi T&T dethroned reigning champs Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) Thursday with a 2-1 victory that booked them a final berth of the Under-21 National Football Championship 2013 being held in Hai Phong City.
It should be noted that SLNA was not at full strength because some of its players are playing for the national Under-19 team at the Asian Football Confederation U19 Qualifiers in Malaysia and some others are training with the national U23 team to prepare for the South East Asian Games in December.
Both sides played cautiously at the beginning of the first semifinal match of the 17th edition of the Thanh Nien-sponsored tournament; and they were on equal terms until midway through the first half when Trinh Duy Long scored the opener for the capital representatives.
SLNA, who have won four U21 championships, put in more effort and created more chances but Xuan Toan and Sy Sam wasted them all before they conceded the second goal one minute from half time.
Do Van Thuan's corner kick sent the ball curving into the net and SLNA custodian Van Hung caught the ball; but he could not stop himself from sliding into the back of the net.
SLNA's concentrated efforts could only result in a goal 20 minutes from full time after striker Ho Phuc Tinh came off the bench.
The goal heightened the spirit of SLNA players and they launched more attacks, putting Hanoi T&T under constant pressure.
Hanoi T&T will now play the final match on Saturday against the winners of the second semifinal match on Friday between Vinh Long and hosts Vicem Hai Phong.
Speaking after the match, Hanoi T&T coach Nguyen Duc Thang said, "The players applied our strategy very well. We deserved to take the win because we had better control of the match."
SLNA coach Dinh Van Dung was magnanimous in defeat, saying: "Hanoi T&T players were equally good while we did not have all the best players in the team and my players failed to take the scoring chances.
"We can't make our way to the final match, but this result is not too bad for the team. I would like to congratulate Hanoi T&T on their win."