AFC U-23 Championship: Vietnam survive thriller to reach semis

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Vietnam continued their history-making ways at the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship by beating Iraq on penalties following a 3-3 extra-time draw to reach the semi-finals.

The Vietnamese got off to a dream start in the quarter-final at the Changshu Staidum in the 12th minute after Iraq failed to clear their lines at a corner.

Although Phan Van Duc was unable to get enough purchase on his ambitious overhead kick, he succeeded in helping it on to Nguyen Cong Phuong, who instinctively prodded a shot into the back of the net.

However, Iraq equalised in controversial fashion a minute before the half-hour mark.

There appeared to be little contact when Aymen Hussein went down while challenging for a cross but referee Chris Beath awarded a penalty, paving the way for the striker to convert from 12 yards.

With neither side able to net again in the remainder of the 90 minutes, the match then went into extra-time and that is when the drama really started.

Just four minutes in, the Iraqis took the lead when a corner by Bashar Resan was met by Hussein with a towering header at the near post that sailed past Bui Tien Dung.

Then, in the 108th minute, it was Vietnam’s turn to equaliser when opposition keeper Ahmed Basil flapped at a high cross, allowing Nguyen Van Toan to fire home on the turn after Van Duc had miscued an initial attempt.

Four minutes later, it looked as though Vietnam had completed a stunning victory when Ha Duc Chinh headed home a Luong Xuan Truong corner to make it 3-2.

But, with four minutes remaining, Alaa Mhawi found spaced down the right and lashed a powerful shot in at the near post to send the game to the dreaded shootout.

Vu Van Thanh was first up for the Vietnamese and scored, but there was no such joy for Iraq captain Reshan as his tame effort straight down the middle was comfortably caught by Tien Dung.

The next six spot-kicks were converted without much fuss, setting up the stage for centre-back Bui Tien Dung to net the winner and send Vietnam through to a semi-final meeting with Qatar.

In doing so, they have now become the first ASEAN side to ever reach the last four of the AFC U-23 Championship.

IRAQ: Ahmed Basil, Alaa Mhawi, Ali Lateef, Burhan Jumaah, Hamza Adnan, Ahmed Mohsin (Amjed Attwan 56’), Safaa Hadi (Farhan Shakor 114’), Mohammed Jaffal (Ibrahim Bayesh 66’), Bashar Resan, Hussein Ali, Aymen Hussein.

VIETNAM: Bui Tien Dung, Pham Xuan Manh (Nguyen Van Toan 100’), Do Duy Manh (Nguyen Thanh Chung 80’), Tran Dinh Trong, Bui Tien Dung, Vu Van Thanh, Luong Xuan Truong, Pham Duc Huy, Nguyen Quang Hai, Phan Van Duc, Nguyen Cong Phuong (Ha Duc Chinh 89’).