HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s homecoming to Mỹ Đình Stadium was far from a happy one last night, as the national team fell to a 1-0 defeat to Australia.
The team’s second match in the third round of 2022 World Cup qualifying was their first at home in Hà Nội for almost two years due to COVID-19-enforced disruptions, but the heavily favoured Socceroos spoiled the party.
Coach Park Hang-seo’s men came into the game depleted at the back due to defender Đỗ Duy Mạnh’s sending off in the 3-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia last week in their Group B opener, but Park still sprang some surprises with his starting 11.
Viettel captain Bùi Tiến Dũng started the match despite having been previously reported to be out due to injury, while goalkeeper Đặng Văn Lâm was restored to the side in place of Bùi Tấn Trường for his first cap in almost two years.
The shot-stopper was unable to join his teammates for the final matches of the second round in the UAE in the summer due to a COVID-19 outbreak at his club side in Japan, and he was also unable to join the team for a training camp in Hà Nội in August.
Perhaps his rustiness played a role in what turned out to be the winning goal in the 43rd minute, as Lâm seemed to be in two minds about coming out for a cross and ended up in no man’s land, allowing Australian defender Ryhan Grant to nod in an easy winner.
Things could have been so different though, as Việt Nam almost grabbed a goal on the break earlier in the half.
Nguyễn Quang Hải was gifted a sight of goal after a rapid counter-attack in the seventh minute, but the diminutive midfielder couldn’t repeat his heroics against Saudi Arabia and sliced his shot high and wide.
In the 28th minute, Việt Nam had a penalty shout after Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy’s shot was blocked by Grant and it appeared the ball struck the defender’s arm. However, the first VAR review ever in Việt Nam went the way of the visiting side.
The second half was a pedestrian affair and Australia’s superior fitness became apparent as the game wore on, as with domestic football in Việt Nam suspended since May, the home side looked to be lacking match sharpness.
Australia had the ball in Lam’s net once more in the 86th minute, but it was chalked off for offside. Việt Nam struggled to create anything other than half-chances, and Australia managed to see the game out and take all three points.
The visitors will be pleased to come away from a tough away trip with a victory but coach Graham Arnold will know his side will need to put in much more incisive performances against the other top Group B teams.
While Việt Nam performed admirably in tough circumstances, coach Park’s ill-fated decision to restore Lâm to the side is likely to be a talking point for a while, at least until Việt Nam take on China in the next qualifier on October 7. — VNS
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