Vietnam suffer poor start to AFC U23 Championship campaign

Thursday, 2018-01-11 16:02:31
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Striker Cong Phuong drags the ball past a ROK player. (Photo: Vnexpress)
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NDO – Vietnam failed to secure their first point at the ongoing AFC U23 Championship 2018 in China after losing 1-2 to the Republic of Korea (ROK) in their Group D opener on January 11.

Nguyen Quang Hai gave the Vietnamese a surprise lead but goals from Cho Yong-wook and Lee Keun-ho helped Kim Bong-gil’s side to claim all three points and stand level at the top of the group standings with Australia, who trounced Syria 3-1 earlier the same day.

Despite being considered the underdogs, Vietnam cruised to an early lead after 17 minutes, with Quang Hai curling a cunning shot at the far corner, leaving ROK keeper Kang Hyeong-mu no chance to make a block.

Vietnamese players celebrate Quang Hai's opening goal. (Photo: Vnexpress)

The 2016 finalists came close to equalising the score three minutes later, as Hwang Hyun-soo’s long range free-kick went narrowly wide of the Vietnam goal.

However, Kim Bong-gil’s needed just seven more minutes to bring the match back to the starting line. Cho Young-wook broke the offside trap to take a through ball from Han Seung-gu before slotting his low shot beyond Vietnamese goalie Bui Tien Dung for an equaliser.

The ROK almost added a second three minutes after the break when Doan Van Hau infringed Lee Keun-ho in the area, but Yoon Seung-won missed the resulting penalty kick.

In the remainder of the match, Park Hang-seo’s side made concerted efforts to score, but they failed to create any concrete opportunities.

The ROK finally concretised their second-half dominance with a decisive goal 17 minutes from time.

Yoon Seung-won floated a curling free-kick from the right into a congested penalty area and Lee Keun-ho used his height advantage to flick the ball over the heads of the Vietnamese defence and over the goal line.

Lee Keun-ho uses his height advantage to score the decisive goal for the ROK. (Photo: Vnexpress)

Next up for Vietnam will be a clash with Australia on January 14.