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Hanoi: Vietnam secured a return to the AFC Asian Cup Finals for the first time since co-hosting the 2007 edition and for only the fourth time overall after sharing a goalless draw with Afghanistan on Tuesday at My Dinh Stadium.

Afghanistan needed to win to keep their qualification hopes alive and almost snatched all three points as Zubayr Amiri’s late header hit the post.

But with Vietnam benefitting from a commanding display by goalkeeper Nguyen Tuan Mạnh, the draw was enough to progress from Group C alongside Jordan with a game remaining.

Afghanistan started the contest on top and Vietnam goalkeeper Tuan Mạnh had to be alert to save a header from Farshad Noor after just eight minutes.

Vietnam, though, slowly found a way back into the contest with a greater share of possession and a free-kick from Dinh Thanh Trung was saved by Afghanistan goalkeeper Hamidullah Wakily.

Afghanistan were managing to contain and restrict Vietnam in the final third, and created another chance of their own seven minutes before half-time as Tuan Mạnh needed to be on his toes to keep out Haroon Fakhrudin’s dangerous header.

The visitors continued to dominate and control the contest at the start of the second half but struggled to break down the Vietnam defence.

And the home side created a chance of their own with 21 minutes remaining, but Nguyen Anh Duc’s header following a counter-attack failed to find the target.

Afghanistan also continued to push for a breakthrough, but saw the majority of their threats in the final third dealt with by Vietnam goalkeeper Tuan Mạnh.

Tuan Mạnh was beaten with five minutes remaining, but fortunately for the home side Amiri’s header came back off the post.

Photos: AFC