World Cup 2022 qualifiers: Vietnam beat China 3-1
Vietnam beat China 3-1 at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on February 1, the team's first victory in the final round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
A goal for Vietnam (Photo: VNA)
Vietnam rang in the new lunar year in style on February 1 night, with a convincing 3-1 win over China in Hanoi.
The World Cup qualifying match was a dead rubber with both sides out of the running for a spot in Qatar later this year, but the passion on display both on and off the pitch showed there was still plenty of regional pride to play for on the first day of the Year of the Tiger.
The win gave Vietnam their first points in the third round of World Cup qualification after losing seven on the trot and will have sent the players into their Tet break with big smiles on their faces.
Coach Park Hang-seo had to do without former captain Que Ngoc Hai who was ruled out due to COVID, but striker Nguyen Tien Linh returned after missing the 4-0 defeat to Australia last week for the same reason.
Vietnam flew out of the blocks as the sparse My Dinh crowd of just 6,099 on a bitterly cold night, roared them on, and they were soon celebrating the opening goal.
Just nine minutes in the home side conjured a cross from the left-hand side which found the head of full-back Ho Tan Tai, who made no mistake.
Just six minutes later the lead was doubled as a well-worked free-kick routine allowed Pham Tuan Hai to square the ball for Linh, who made no mistake inside the six-yard box.
The visitors struggled to create decent chances in the first half, bar some tame shots which goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh saved easily.
In the second half, Vietnamsat back and soaked up the pressure from China comfortably, who were unable to create many chances of note.
Even China's star striker Wu Lei was unable to impact proceedings, unlike in the reverse fixture last year when his two goals secured a 3-2 win for China.
Vietnam made the game safe in the 76th minute when Nguyen Hoang Duc picked out Phan Van Duc in space. The substitute still had a lot to do but was able to conjure a superb long-range shot that flew in off the post, sending the crowd, and watching Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chinh, into raptures.
China scored a consolation goal with the last kick of the match as Xu Xin volleyed home, but the celebrations at the final whistle moments later ensured it would be but a footnote on a historic night for Vietnam.