Vietnam’s fairytale Asian Cup run ends as Japan need VAR penalty to advance

Thursday, 2019-01-24 22:19:38
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Vietnam (in red) deliver a brilliant display against Japan. (Photo: AFC)
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NDO – Vietnam’s fairytale run at the 2019 Asian Cup came to an end on January 24 after Park Hang-seo’s side suffered a regrettable 0-1 defeat against powerhouse Japan in a thrilling last eight clash that saw the Samurai Blue need a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) penalty to score the solitary goal.

Introduced from the quarterfinal stage, the VAR denied Japan an opener in the first half but benefited them after the interval as the four-time champions remained on track for a record fifth Asian Cup trophy.

Despite being considered the underdogs, the Golden Dragons headed into the match without fears and even created an equal game against powerhouse Japan. After 14 minutes, Vietnam striker Nguyen Cong Phuong produced a brilliant personal showing before threatening Hajime Moriyasu’s side with a shot narrowly wide.

Referee Mohammed Abdulla Mohamed refers to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) during the match. (Photo: AFC)

It was the Samurai Blue who first found the back of the net, as captain Maya Yoshida converted Haraguchi’s 25th-minute curler with a nasty header from close range. However, much to Vietnam’s relief, the goal was ruled out for a handball by referee Mohammed Abdulla Mohamed following his consultation with the VAR, which was called into action for the first time in the AFC Asian Cup.

Vietnam then took the game to Japan, with Cong Phuong ending a surging run by just sending the ball wide.

The Golden Dragons strengthened their attacks, putting Japanese defence under constant pressure. Goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda was forced into making his first save of the game as Phan Van Duc blasted home from close range in the 37th minute, before being called into action again a minute later to deny another close-range attempt from midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai.

Keeper Dang Van Lam rescues Vietnam a number of times during the match. (Photo: AFC)

Vietnam keeper Dang Van Lam ensured his side went into half time level with a superb save after Ritsu Doan assisted Takumi Minamino inside the box only to see the Vietnam goalie to parry the ball over the crossbar.

Japan started the second half strongly and needed 12 minutes to break the deadlock. The surging Ritsu Doan’s run was blocked by Bui Tien Dung inside the box, and referee Mohammed, after referring to the VAR, awarded the Samurai Blue a penalty which Doan successfully converted despite Van Lam choosing the right ball direction.

Japanese players celebrate scoring the opener. (Photo: AFC)

Having taken the lead, Japan strengthened their ball possession making it difficult for Vietnamese players to get a touch of the ball.

Substitute Nguyen Phong Hong Duy came close to equalising the score in the 73rd minute as his low drive went narrowly wide. Meanwhile, Vietnam keeper Van Lam was called into action four minutes later to save Minamino’s effort.

The 0-1 defeat put an end to Vietnam’s fairytale run in this year’s Asian Cup campaign. Despite their missing out on a place in the last four, this could be considered a successful tournament for Park Hang-seo and his players, who impressed the whole of Asia for their brave and resilient fighting spirit throughout every game.

VAN TOAN