Asian Cup: Vietnam suffer last-gasp defeat to Iraq

Tuesday, 2019-01-08 22:46:34
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Vietnamese and Iraqi players fight for the ball during their Group D opener on January 8. (Photo: vnexpress.net)
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NDO – Vietnam missed out on their first point in the 2019 Asian Cup as the 2007 champions Iraq came from behind twice to beat Park Hang-seo’s side 3-2 in their Group D opener at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on the evening of January 8.

The Golden Dragons took the lead twice with an own goal by Ali Faez Atiyah (24’) and another from Cong Phuong (42’).

However, the Iraqi side fought back to equalise the score 2-2 thanks to the brilliance of Mohanad Ali Kadhim (35’) and Humam Tareq Faraj (60’), before Ali Adnan Kadhim sealed a narrow triumph for the West Asian team with a beautiful free-kick converter in the last official minute of play.

Iraq produced the first shot on target of the match after 13 minutes, with Hussein Ali Al-Saedi’s attempt from outside the box forcing Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Van Lam to make a save. However, it was the “Golden Dragons” who opened the scoring 11 minutes later.

Vietnamese players celebrate scoring their opening goal. (Photo: vnexpress.net)

Midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai chipped a through ball to Cong Phuong who was dashing into the penalty area. In his effort to block the pass, Iraq’s centre back Ali Faez inadvertently backheeled the ball into his own goal to the surprise of keeper Jalal Hassan Hachim.

Inspired by the opener, Vietnam continued to put up pressure and maintain fierce fighting for the ball in midfield. However, a moment of hesitation from defender Do Duy Manh forced Park’s side to drop their advantage five minutes after the half-hour mark, with Mohanad Ali robbing him of possession outside the area and skipping around Que Ngoc Hai before rifling a shot past Dang Van Lam.

Mohanad Ali celebrates equalising the score for Iraq. (Photo: FOX Sports Asia)

In the 36th minute, Van Duc passed a through ball to Cong Phuong in the box, but the No. 10 player could not manage to tap in from close range. Yet, only six minutes later, the favourite striker proved his value by converting a rebound to gift the Golden Dragons a 2-1 lead going into half time after Trong Hoang’s left-footed effort was parried by goalie Hachim.

Cong Phuong (no. 10) celebrates with teammate Duy Manh after making it 2-1 for Vietnam. (Photo: vnexpress.net)

The opening minutes of the second half saw Iraq intensify offensive pressure seeking for the second equaliser; however, their attacks were stopped by Vietnam’s solid defensive line.

Van Lam successfully parried Mohanad Ali’s header on the hour mark, but substitute Humam Tariq Faraj pounced on a loose ball to smash home from close range, just three minutes after his coming off the bench, to tie up the score for Srecko Katanec’s side.

As it looked as though Vietnam had done enough to claim their first point in the 2019 Asian Cup, their hearts were broken in the final minute. Lining up a freekick on the edge of the box, Ali Adnan Kadhim curled a sublime left-footed effort into the top corner to seal a come-from-behind win for the West Asian side.

Keeper Dang Van Lam could not prevent Ali Adnan Kadhim from scoring a last-gasp winner for Iraq. (Photo: FOX Sports Asia)

Despite missing out on points, Vietnam still deserved praise for their brave display against tournament heavyweights Iraq over the entire 90 minutes. Next up for the “Golden Dragons” will be a tough clash with Iran on January 12, while Iraq take on Yemen in another game later the same day.

VAN TOAN
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