AFC Asian Cup 2019: Vietnam victorious to stay in the last-16 hunt

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Vietnam are still in with a chance of reaching the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Round of 16 after finishing their Group D campaign by sealing third place with a 2-0 victory over Yemen.

A stunning first-half freekick by Nguyen Quang Hai provided the Golden Dragons the breakthrough at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, before captain Que Ngoc Hai calmly converted from the penalty spot in the 65th minute to secure the three points.

Highlights – Vietnam vs Yemen

At present, the result puts them third in the ranking of third-place teams and they now need to wait until the group stage is completed on Thursday to find out if they have progressed to the knockout round.

Having been beaten by Iran and Iraq in their opening two games, both sides entered Wednesday’s game still looking for their first points but – with four of the six third-placed teams qualifying for the Round of 16 – aware that victory could still see them advance.

It was the Vietnamese who started the brighter and they gradually gain a stranglehold on proceedings, although they were lacking a clinical edge in the attacking third up against their opponents’ five-man defence.

In fact, it was Yemen who could have broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 17th minute when Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Van Lam came off his line but completely flapped at a freekick, and was fortunate no one was on hand to punish him.

Just when it looked as though both sides would head into the break level on the scoreboard, Quang Hai stepped up to provide the breakthrough with a moment of sheer inspiration.

An unstoppable strike by the Vietnam star.

Despite his proven track record from set pieces, there was still plenty of work to be done as he lined up a freekick 30 yards from goal but proceeded to send a sublime effort arrowing past Salem Al-Harsh.

Picking up the victory was the first part of the job, but Vietnam also needed to claim as big a winning margin as possible to give themselves the best chance, with a three-goal triumph enough to guarantee a place in the last 16.

Three minutes after the hour mark, they had a golden opportunity to double their tally when Phan Van Duc burst through before being dragged down inside the box by Abdulaziz Al-Gumaei.

A few eyebrows would have been raised when it was not Quang Hai, but centre-back Ngoc Hai, who placed the ball on the spot but the Vietnam captain showed a touch of flair with a skip in his run-up en route to sending Al Harsh the wrong way from the spot.

Despite their best efforts, the Golden Dragons were just unable to get the all-important third goal but still did enough to keep themselves in contention, and will now wait till Thursday evening to discover their fate.

VIETNAM: Dang Van Lam, Bui Tien Dung, Que Ngoc Hai, Doan Van Hau, Nguyen Trong Hoang, Luong Xuan Truong (Nguyen Tien Linh 53’), Do Hung Dung, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy, Nguyen Quang Hai, Phan Van Duc (Nguyen Van Toan 72’), Nguyen Cong Phuong (Tran Minh Vuong 82’).

YEMEN: Salem Al-Harsh, Mohammed Ba Rowis, Ammar Hamsan (Abdulaziz Al-Gumaei 57’), Mudir Abdurabu, Mohammed Boqshan, Ala Addin Mahdi, Ahmed Al-Sarori, Wahid Al-Khyat (Ahmed Abdullah Alos 76’), Ala Al-Sasi, Abdulwasea Al-Matari, Emad Mansoor Tawfik (Ahmed Nabil Dhabaan 25’).