Bacolod: Goals from Nguyen Anh Duc and Phan Van Duc will see Vietnam head into the decisive AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 semi-final second leg in the driving seat, after their 2-1 win over the Philippines in the first leg on Sunday.

A physical start to the match at Panaad Park and Stadium saw several strong tackles set the tone, before Philippines midfielder Patrick Reichelt had the first effort on goal, shaping a shot wide to the right of goal on the ninth minute.

But from the very next attack it was the visitors who went ahead on 12 minutes.

Doan Van Hau's floated pass forward saw striker Anh Duc catch the Philippines defence napping, and he lofted a first-time header over stranded goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard to open the scoring.

Anh Duc then turned provider laying on a chance for Van Duc after a well-worked move, but the winger's angled shot from the left went wide of the far post.

Nguyen Quang Hai and Carli De Murga spurned opportunities at either end, but then, just as it looked like the match would reach half-time with Vietnam a goal up, the hosts leveled the scores.

Captain Phil Younghusband broke free on the left and whipped an inviting cross into the area where Reichelt was perfectly placed to volley past Dang Van Lam to make it 1-1 at the break and end Vietnam's record of zero goals conceded at AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.

Parity, however, ended just three minutes into the second half.

Nguyen Trong Hoang's ball over the top for Van Duc to run on to beat the Azkals' offside trap and the 22-year-old finished smartly past Falkesgaard.

Boosted by restoring their lead, the away side looked to extend their winning margin and Philippines midfielder Adam Reed almost turned the ball past his own keeper following a dangerous Vietnam cross from the right.

Stefan Schrock and Younghusband had speculative efforts from range after the hour mark, but Van Lam comfortably dealt with the threat. 

With 10 minutes remaining, goalscorer Reichelt perhaps should have done better when he was picked out inside the area by a sumptuous pass from Schrock, but the Ceres-Negros star could only cushion his effort over the crossbar.

Vietnam could have ended the tie with an even bigger advantage when Ha Duc Chinh raced clear but his firmly struck shot was parried by a smart stop from Falkesgaard, before Nguyen Cong Phuong somehow blazed wide after cutting inside in stoppage time.

Instead, the margin of difference will be just the single goal going into the return meeting on December 6 in Hanoi, as we await the opponent of either Malaysia or Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 final.