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 at Hanoi’s My Dinh Stadium on October 10. NDO reported.
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.
By Van Toan.