AFC U-23 Championship: Vietnam edge out Australia

A second half winner from Nguyen Quang Hai proved sufficient for Vietnam to earn a 1-0 victory over Australia and leave qualification for the AFC U23 Championship quarter-finals wide open.

Quang Hai’s deflected long-range strike puts both teams level on three points after two rounds of matches – one point adrift of Group D leaders Korea Republic.

But Vietnam will now fancy their chances of reaching the knock-out stages, with victory over Syria in the final group game on Wednesday guaranteeing their quarter final spot. Australia, meanwhile, face the stern challenge of Korea.

Vietnam boss Park Hang-seo said: “I promised we would do something special but this is just the start.

“We have one match left and from tomorrow we have to concentrate on that game.”

Vietnam had the best of the first half chances, with Alex Gersbach’s error handing possession to Nguyen Cong Phuong, who was denied by a last-gasp intervention from Ruon Tongyik.

Six minutes before the interval, Cong Phuong then saw his effort from 25 yards saved at full stretch by Paul Izzo.

However, it was Australia who made the strongest start to the second half after Gersbach’s low cross found Joseph Champness at the far post – forcing Tien Dung to push the ball behind.

But with 18 minutes to go, Vietnam found the breakthrough with the only goal of the game after Australia were unable to clear their lines from a corner and Quang Hai’s deflected shot from distance beat Izzo.

Australia almost grabbed a late equaliser, but substitute George Blackwood saw his header crash against the bar.

“We struggled at times to create some clear cut chances. We were vulnerable on the break and we could have dealt better with those situations,” said Australia head coach Ante Milicic.