Vietnam survived some harrowing moments before they were able to score a 3-1 win over the Philippines to pick up the full points in the opening match of Group B of the men's football event at the SEA Games at the Stadion Utama Gelora Bung Karno.
The scoreline was flattering to the 2009 runners-up to say the least with the Philippines deservedly taking the lead in the 37th minute off Manuel Ott before Philippines captain Matthew Hartmann's own goal in the 59th minute put Vietnam back on track.
Vietnam then scored two further goals off Le Hoang Thien in the 72nd minute and Nguyen Phan Nguyet in the last minute of play for the final score line.
With battling midfielder Manny Ott joining the Philippines squad at the last minute, the team was spearheaded by Gerardo Valmayor and J. Moralo upfront with Roland Muller in goal.
It was Vietnam who dictated the pace and rhythm of the game as they controlled the possession to create several chances with captain Pham Thanh Luong missing a sitter in the ninth minute before Anh Quang's shot sometime later was blocked by recovering defender Martinez de Murga.
But in the 37th minute, it was Manny Ott who gave the Philippines the shock lead where after a back flick from Mark Hartmann, the former shot in between two Vietnamese centre backs for them to take a 1-0 lead at the break.
While Muller continuing to prevent Vietnam from nailing the equaliser with several excellent saves, it was to be Mattew Hartmann who gave the goal to Vietnam when in the 59th minute, he headed the ball into his own het off a cross from Le Van Thang.
Frustrated, the Philippines tried to protect at least the one point which was within them but that too soon backfired when Vietnam piled on the pressure to take the lead for the first time in the game in the 72nd minute of play.
Le Hoang Thien punished Muller when the latter came off his line to stop an earlier attempt from Nguyen Van Quyet.
Van Nguyet then completed the frustration for the Philippines with the third and final goal in injury time.
In Thursday's other game, defender Win Aung Kyaw's strike at the tail end of the second half gave ten-man Myanmar a well-deserved 3-2 win over Laos.
With the evening sky opening up just ten minutes into the tie, the game was always going to be long and testing for both Myanmar and Laos.
And for Myanmar, they could not have started their campaign on a worst note than when in the 15th minute, Lwin Nya Ma was red carded for foul a foul on Laos captain Lamnao Singto for impeding what would have been a goal scoring opportunity.
But despite being a man down, it was Myanmar who grabbed the lead when in the 19th minute, Kyaw Ko Ko's headed in the corner from Pyaw Phyo.
Myanmar stepped up their tempo with several attempts from Minh Minh Thu, Aye San and Ko Ko but all failed to change the score line as it stayed 1-0 until the end of the first half.
Laos then brought in Phattana for Soukhaphone and that improved their ball possession as they were less eager to launch into the attack.
And while Sangvone's grounder in the 56th minute might have astray, there was no stopping Laos from grabbing the lead in the 65th minute when Lamnao made good with a header from Soukhaphone's free kick.
But five minutes, later, Myanmar fought back to steal the lead for the second time on the night, when the nippy Ko Ko ran in from the right for a cross which saw Minh Minh Tu having the easiest of tap in.
That goal sparked another surge from Laos in the 74th minute where off a cross from Manolom from the left, Sangvone beat two defenders before slotting the ball home to put the score 2-2.
However, Myanmar showed that while they may be a man down, they are still a spirited lot when in the 78th minute, defender Win Aung Kyaw scores from a tight angle off a beautiful lob from Kyi Lin's lob.
Thursday's 2011 SEA Games Group B Results
Vietnam 3-1 Philippines
Laos 2-3 Myanmar
Saturday's 2011 SEA Games Group B Fixtures
Brunei Darussalam vs Timor Leste
Myanmar vs Vietnam