After thirteen entertaining days, we finally know which teams will participate in the AFC Asian Cup knockout stages. The final one of those teams to qualify was Vietnam, as they made it through to the Round-of-16 for the second time with a little help from elsewhere.
Vietnam went into Matchday 3, knowing that anything less than three points would see them knocked out of the AFC Asian Cup. The Golden Dragons did their part well, beating Yemen by two goals to nil. All they had to do now, was hope that no other third-placed team betters them in ‘tiebreakers’.
However, one by one, teams started bettering Vietnam’s record, thereby qualifying for the next stage.
AFC Asian Cup 2019: The yellow card that sealed Vietnam’s passage to the knockout rounds
With three of the four available spots decided, it came down to the final match of the group stage, between Lebanon and DPR Korea.
To the horror of many Vietnamese fans, Lebanon scored goal after goal, as they looked to better their goal difference. However, the match ended 4-1 in favour of the Cedars, tying them with the Golden Dragons on ‘-1’ goal difference. Furthermore, the two were tied in terms of goals scored (4 each) and goals conceded (5 each) as well!
And so, a fourth tiebreaker had to be called in effect – Disciplinary Record. As it happens, Vietnam managed to accrue five yellow cards, as compared to Lebanon’s 7, allowing them to occupy the final qualification spot.
Lebanon went into their match against DPR Korea on five yellow cards. However, defender Robert Melki found himself in the referee’s book after 30 minutes for a poor challenge on his opponent.
In the end, it was Melki’s caution which paved the way for the Golden Dragons to make it to the knockout stages.