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|Vietnam’s football team defeated Syria 1-0 in the quarterfinal match of the ongoing Asian Games 2018 (ASIAD) in Indonesia on Monday night, photo source:soha.vn|
The U23 football team qualified for the men’s semi-final of the Asian Games after defeating Syria 1-0 in a tense quarter-final at the Patriot Candrabhaga stadium of West Java, Indonesia on Monday night.
The game was Vietnam’s first quarter-final at the regional tournament, having beaten Bahrain 1-0 with a goal by striker Nguyen Cong Phuong in the 87th minute in the last 16.
The fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude of the U23s (and the three overage players allowed in the tournament) shone against Syria, as it did during the team’s history-making run to second place at the Asian U23 Championship in China in January.
In the first half, Vietnam had several half-chances but could not break through Syria’s strong defence.
Meanwhile, Syria created several dangerous situations, but were repelled by goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung, who pulled out some amazing saves.
In the 42nd minute, Syria had a decent opportunity but the effort flew off target, leaving the first half scoreless at the break.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Vietnam started playing with more caution, without launching any major attacks, which allowed them to stymie the Syrian aerial threat.
Normal time ended with no goals scored, setting the stage for a dramatic 30 minutes of extra time.
In the first period of extra time, goalkeeper Dung was again the star man for the Vietnamese, saving a Syrian attempt on goal in the 102nd minute and ensuring the sides were still deadlocked going into the final 15 minutes.
Vietnam’s golden moment arrived three minutes into the second period.
A long ball from defender Bui Tien Dung sent Nguyen Anh Duc racing through on goal with a glorious chance. The striker struck the ball sweetly, lobbing the Syrian goalkeeper, only to see the ball crash off the crossbar.
Despair turned to elation moments later however, as Nguyen Van Toan prodded the rebound home to send thousands of supporters across Vietnam into ecstasy.
There was time for yet more drama though, as deep into added time the Vietnamese defence were caught napping, gifting Syrian midfielder Zakaria Hannan a gilt-edged chance that he screwed wide of the goal.
No matter, as soon after the referee blew the final whistle, with Vietnam coming out with a historic 1-0 victory.
Speaking on VTC3 after the victory, former Vietnamese football star Nguyen Hong Son said the sport has achieved so much in recent months thanks to proper investment.
“Looking at Vietnam’s strategy in this quarter-final, I have seen coach Park Hang Seo’s rightful instruction which has inspired Vietnamese players. The players were proactive in attacking and co-ordinated with each other harmoniously.”
“Despite being evaluated as the weaker team, the players have always managed to overcome and achieve victory; which is both due to their professionalism and undefeated fighting spirit,” he said.
Vietnam’s competitor in the semi-final will be South Korea, who defeated U23 Uzbekistan 4-3 in the other semi-final the same day. The match between Vietnam and Korea will take place on Wednesday.