AFC Asian Cup 2019: 5 talking points as Vietnam’s hopes diminish after 2-0 defeat to Iran

Asian Cup 2019 Vietnam Iran

Vietnam were condemned to a 2-0 defeat to three-time champions Iran in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. 

Sardar Azmoun was the two-goal hero finding the back of the net once in each of the halves to take Team Melli to the Round of the 16 of the continental championship. But Vietnam, who have now suffered back-to-back defeats, will need a lot of things to go their way if they are to join today’s opponents in the next round.

Here are FOX Sports Asia’s five major talking points from the 90 minutes of action in Abu Dhabi.

1) Dejagah and Taremi ask questions of Vietnam defence 

Ashkan Dejagah and Mehdi Taremi were the two undisputed stars in Iran’s 5-0 thrashing of Yemen in their opening match and the duo were once again at their menacing best against the Golden Dragons on Saturday. Dejagah and Taremi were a handful for the left-hand side of the Vietnamese defence, however,  Do Hung Dung and Doan Van Hau managed to negate some of the threat while captain Que Ngoc Hai was excellent putting his body on the line on more than once occasion.

2) Azmoun continues his resurgence 

A disaster of a 2018 FIFA World Cup and subsequent retirement from the game seem to be long in the past for Team Melli striker Sardar Azmoun now. It was the Rubin Kazan striker who scored the opener for Iran with a simple header at the far post in the 38th minute. And the 24-year-old has scored two from two now in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 and is a key man as Iran chase their fourth continental championship. It’s hard to believe this was the same man who retired from the game citing online abuse and bullying from fans last summer.

3) The Golden Dragons come out with renewed vigour in the second half 

Park Hang-seo seems to have had some strong words for his players in the dressing room at the half-time as the Vietnamese returned to the pitch with renewed intent. The South Korean tactician also replaced Phan Van Duc with 22-year-old HAGL FC winger Nguyen Van Toan during the break. The half-time team talk seemed to have inspired Vietnam who have been trailing by a goal and they create a problem or two for the Asian heavyweights forcing Carlos Queiroz to rethink his strategy.

4) Vietnam left to rue Cong Phuong’s miss! 

During that early exchanges, Vietnam had their best chance to equalise and maybe turn the game around when Nguyen Cong Phuong was played through on goal in the 52nd minute. However, the forward who had scored in Vietnam’s opening defeat to Iraq fired his effort straight at Iran custodian Alireza Beiranvand. And it proved to be a costly miss as Azmoun doubled his team’s lead in the 69th minute to put the result surely beyond the doubt and to also take the lead as the tournament’s top scorer for now with three goals from two.

5) Vietnam’s chances to progress as good as over? 

Iran have booked their spot in the knockout stages as they go in search of a first Asian Cup title in 43 years, but things are not looking that good for the Southeast Asian champions. The AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 winners are still to open their account after two group games and now face the group’s minnows Yemen in their final game in Al Ain on January 16. They still have a chance to progress as one of the four best third-placed teams, but much will depend on how things will pan out in their group as well as other groups in the coming days.