The final was played between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iraq, coached by BrazilianJorvan Vieira, qualified for the final after topping their group thanks to draws with Thailand and Oman either side of an emphatic 3–1 win against tournament favourites Australia. A 2–0 quarter-final win over co-hosts Vietnam followed before they defeated South Korea in a penalty shootout in the semi-final to qualify for their first ever Asian Cup final. Saudi Arabia, also led by a Brazilian coach (Hélio dos Anjos), topped Group D before 2–1 and 3–2 wins over Uzbekistan and Japan respectively in the quarter-final and semi-final stages saw them into the final. For Iraq, victory would bring its first ever Asian Cup title, whereas Saudi Arabia were hoping for their fourth title. Iraq were the underdogs, with the war-torn nation almost pulling out of the game after a suicide bomber killed 30 football fans who were celebrating the semi-final win over South Korea, but were helped by the millions of Iraqis around the world who supported the team in their effort to complete what would eventually be one of sport's greatest fairytales.
Iraq dominated the first half of the match, and had chances to score through Qusay Munir and Younis Mahmoud before Karrar Jassim's shot was saved after a mazing run through the Saudi defence. Saudi Arabia's first real chance was a long-range shot from Taisir Al-Jassim in the second half which was well-saved by Noor Sabri. The Saudis survived a scare when Younis Mahmoud and Nashat Akram both had close-range efforts saved in quick succession by Yasser Al Mosailem. Saudi Arabia struggled to deal with Nashat Akram's close control and creativity in midfield as he carved out a number of chances for the eventual champions, and the deadlock was broken on 73 minutes when Younis Mahmoud sent Hawar Mulla Mohammed's corner looping over a flailing Al Mosailem and into the back of the net with a header to send the Iraqi fans wild and put them within touching distance of a remarkable victory. Despite taking the lead, Iraq continued to attack the Saudi goal with Nashat playing Younis through on goal with a delightful pass only for the striker to slide the ball right at the Saudi 'keeper, wasting a chance to put the game to bed. For all their domination, Iraq were left holding their breath in injury time when Saudi Arabia striker Malek Maaz's header bounced just over the crossbar, but the final whistle blew soon after to signify that the Lions of Mesopotamia had won the Asian Cup for the first time.
After the match, Nashat Akram was named the "most valuable player" of the game, with Younis Mahmoud receiving the award for "most valuable player" of the tournament and sharing the top scorer award with Yasser Al-Qahtani and Naohiro Takahara. The Iraqi team, a mixture of Sunni, Shia and Kurdish players, received international acclaim as they helped unite the people of a fractured, war-torn nation and bring them happiness that they so rarely get to enjoy. Iraq's manager Jorvan Vieira said he was proud of how the players won the cup with such little preparation and without being allowed to play national games in their own country but also announced that he was stepping down as Iraq manager after the victory.