Indonesia stun 10-man Vietnam to make AFF Suzuki Cup final
Indonesia advanced to the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup final after an astonishing 2-2 draw against 10-man Vietnam on Wednesday night in one of the most captivating semifinals in tournament history.
The unexpected second-leg result at the My Dinh Stadium meant Alfred Riedl's side progressed 4-3 on aggregate. They will face either Thailand or Myanmar in the two-legged final on Dec. 14 and Dec.17.
Indonesia's 2-1 first leg lead meant Vietnam had to score in front of their home fans to go through, and they launched into the visitors from kickoff in a masterclass of football domination.
The Golden Stars did their best to utilise their 75 percent possession, getting themselves into good positions with short, swift interchanges that had their opponents at sixes and sevens.
Vu Van Thanh's lovely link up with Le Cong Vinh resulted in a shot that went over the bar in the sixth minute before Cong Vinh failed to test Kurnia Hermansyah from the same position soon after.
Nguyen Van Toan and Tran Dinh Dong, brought into the side because of their attacking instincts, were pulling the strings in the final third, without being able to find that final ball.
But it almost happened a minute before the half-time, as Cong Vinh saw his header from Nguyen Trong Hoang's corner find the base of the post, going agonisingly close.
Van Toan kicked off the second half with a drive that whistled just wide of Kurnia's right-hand post as Vietnam desperately tried to open the scoring on the night.
Their hopes derailed significantly in the 54th minute when Indonesia took the lead through a freak goal.
Boaz Solossa's cross, in a rare attack, resulted in Nguyen Manh tipping the ball to the path of Ding Dong, who sliced his clearance horribly wrong.
The ball bounced off the post, and rolled on the line for Stefano Lilipaly to stab home, silencing the capacity crowd.
Vietnam were then dealt another blow in the 77th minute when Nguyen Manh lost his head and was sent off for kicking out at Solossa.
As Nguyen Huu Thang had used up all his substitutions, defender Que Ngoc Hai took over goalkeeping duties.
But with their backs against the wall, Vietnam produced one of the most unlikely comebacks in AFF Cup history.
In the 83rd minute, they were back level, thanks to Vu Van Thanh's immaculate finish from a cleverly worked free kick.
Substitute Pham Thanh Luong was the architect, lining up a short pass for Van Thanh to hammer home from outside the box.
And then deep into injury time, substitute Vu Minh Tuan sent the My Dinh crowd into ecstasy with a moment of brilliance.
A drop of the shoulder took the midfielder away from his marker, and Minh Tuan's mastery was completed when he buried a shot past Kurnia into the bottom corner.
Extra time beckoned, and the Vietnam defence went to sleep in the 96th minute.
That lapse resulted in them conceding a penalty after the stand-in stopper Ngoc Hai took down Beny Wahyudi in the box.
Manahati Lestunen drove the spot kick right down the middle to restore Indonesia's aggregate lead, meaning that Vietnam would need to score twice more to advance to the final.
Alfred Riedl's men were given another spot kick by referee Fu Min shortly after. But the Chinese official changed his decision after consulting with his assistant.
Vietnam tried desperately to find another two goals. But a second comeback proved too much, and Indonesia were soon celebrating a fairy tale journey that will go on for another week at least.
It will be their fifth final appearance, and their first in six years. They have never won the regional showcase, losing the 2010 final to Malaysia.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.