The Vietnamese players celebrate one of their four goals against Indonesia. Photo bongda24h.vn / Peter Cowan
HÀ NỘI — The national team restarted their World Cup 2022 qualification campaign in fine style with a 4-0 win over Indonesia in the UAE last night.
Coach Park Hang-seo’s men will face much sterner tests in their two upcoming Group G fixtures than the young Indonesians offered, but can still take confidence from comfortably dispatching a much inferior side at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
Việt Nam dominated the first half but struggled to create many clear openings from a steady stream of set pieces, though they easily smothered any Indonesian attempts to get forward.
Indonesia offered little other than a succession of wild challenges and could count themselves fortunate to go into the break with 11 players after a late lunge over the top of the ball from Pratama Arhan Alif in the 23rd minute should have seen him receive his marching orders, but the referee was unmoved.
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The turning point came in the 35th minute as Lương Xuân Trường replaced the injured Nguyễn Tuấn Anh in midfield and gave Việt Nam a lot more thrust going forward.
Trường clipped the bar with a long-range shot early on in the second half, which proved to be a portent of things to come for Indonesia.
The opening goal came just five minutes into the second period as Nguyễn Tiến Linh latched onto a ball over the top by Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy and though his first shot was blocked, he managed to fire the rebound in off the post and past goalkeeper Nadeo Argawinata.
Indonesia’s players protested that Linh controlled the ball with his hand to no avail, but they could have no complaints about the second goal.
Nguyễn Quang Hải’s strike in the 61st minute was typical of the pint-sized playmaker at his scintillating best. The Hà Nội FC man picked the ball up outside of the area and drilled a low, rasping drive into the bottom corner of the net which two goalkeepers couldn’t have stopped.
The third goal was bundled home from close range five minutes later by substitute Nguyễn Công Phượng after the forward latched on to Linh’s headed flick-on from a corner.
Indonesia’s Egy Maulana rattled the bar in the 70th minute with a thunderous drive from range, though on the balance of play Bùi Tấn Trường would have been unlucky to lose his clean sheet on a night he had virtually nothing to do.
The fourth and final goal in the 73rd minute was the pick of the bunch and a fitting reward for a solid performance from Vũ Văn Thanh. The full-back was played in down the right by Trường and had the composure and skill to cut inside and curl an unstoppable shot into the far corner of Argawinata’s net.
Despite the comfortable win, Việt Nam did suffer a blow as Hải’s early, and it must be said foolish, yellow card means he will miss Friday’s encounter with Malaysia, while Anh limping off will also be a concern.
In Group G’s other match on Monday night, the UAE beat Thailand by three goals to one, putting them just two points behind Việt Nam in Group G.
Coach Park’s men will take on Malaysia next on Friday night, before what is shaping up to be a hugely important clash with the UAE on June 15. VNS