Vietnam scored their first win in the second round of the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers, as Nguyen Quang Hai blasted a solitary goal to help Park Hang-seo’s side edge past Malaysia 1-0 in their second Group G match yesterday.
|Vietnam midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai (in red) scores the only goal of the match with a brilliant volley from close range.|
This was the third win for Vietnam in the last four meetings with the Malayan Tigers, following the previous two victories in last year’s AFF Cup (2-0 in the group stage and 1-0 in the second leg of the final).
The unexpected opening draw against Thailand left the reigning AFF champions with no option but to beat Malaysia to foster their hopes of advancing into the final round of the World Cup Asian qualifiers.
The Golden Dragons started the match brightly, initiating the attacks early in this game with forward Nguyen Van Toan bursting into the box with his pace, but he was dealt with by a Malaysian defender.
Malaysia showed their ambition to avenge their AFF Cup defeat against the Vietnamese side by pouring constant pressure on the hosts in the following minutes.
The Malayan Tigers could have taken the lead after 11 minutes, but Vietnam keeper Dang Van Lam showed his amazing reflex, brilliantly blocking a closer-rang header following a corner in the left wing.
The goalie, however, made a serious mistake 12 minutes later that should have forced the Golden Dragons to pay the prices. La'Vere Corbin-Ong's long throw-in was directed at Van Lam’s goal, but the Muangthong United star failed to catch the ball, leaving it slip through his hands and miss the far post via a slight deflection off Vietnam’s Bui Tien Dung.
After a shaky start, Park Hang-seo’s players began to rediscover their rhythm, deploying a number of noticeable attacks towards the Malaysian box.
Quang Hai managed to find the back of the net in the 28th minute, but his goal was disallowed for offside.
However, the star midfielder only needed 12 more minutes to put the hosts in front with a clever volley from close range after teammate Que Ngoc Hai played a cross into the box.
Inspired by the opener, the Golden Dragons fought more confidently and came close to doubling their advantage four minutes into the second half, with Van Toan playing through behind the Malaysian defence, but goalkeeper Farizal Marlias came out from the post and cleared the danger.
Three minutes after the hour mark, head coach Park Hang-seo replaced Cong Phuong with veteran forward Nguyen Anh Duc, seeking to strengthen Vietnam’s offensive power for additional goals.
Vietnam produced the most thrilling attack of the match in the 73rd minute, with Nguyen Trong Hoang bursting down to the byline and cutting the ball back to Van Toan who fluffed his shot. The ball then reached Nguyen Anh Duc who slotted into the empty net but was denied by Shahrul Saad.
With time running out, Vietnam maintained their constant pressure, forcing the guest side to play on the defence. The agility of Nguyen Quang Hai allowed the Golden Dragons to take control of the midfield, thus preventing the Malayan Tigers from producing any clear-cut opportunities until the final whistle.
The convincing victory has lifted Vietnam to second place in Group G with four points after two games, behind leaders Thailand only on goal difference.
Asian media praise Vietnam’s victory in World Cup qualifier
Vietnam played an outstanding match against Malaysia on October 10 and deserved their first win in the second qualifying round of the World Cup 2022, according to Asian media.
A Fox Sport Asia article spoke highly of Nguyen Quang Hai’s performance, especially the Hanoi FC star’s brilliant acrobatic volley that squeezed past the Malaysian goalie at his near post in the 40th minute.
The article also praised Vietnam’s head coach Park Hang-seo and his players, adding that Vietnam had taken advantage of their teamwork to launch their attacks.
Aside from Hai’s goal, the team in red had more chances to kill off the game, it said.
Goal.com said Vietnam once again looked the better team, as Malaysia were unable to play down the flanks that had proved so effective in previous matches.
The Vietnam backline marshalled by Que Ngoc Hai, Bui Tien Dung and Do Duy Manh proved a tough nut to crack for the Malaysian forwards, it added.
An article on the Asian Football Confederation’s website also praised the team, saying they had managed to keep Malaysia’s frontline quiet.
In the second half, Malaysia piled on the pressure but hardly threatened their rivals, who did enough to maintain their lead, it continued.
Vietnam will play Indonesia away in five days.
Vietnam are in a group with regional rivals Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the favourites the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Vietnam battled out a goalless match with Thailand in the frenetic opener of Group G in Thailand’s Pathum Thani province on September 5./. Dtinews/VNN/VNA
Head coach Park Hang-seo has finalised the roster of 23 players for the match against Malaysia in the World Cup 2022 qualifying round, according to the Vietnam Football Federation.
Eight out of the 14 Vietnamese football clubs have been licensed to participate in club tournaments organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2020.