Viet Nam Gains a Lucky Draw with Qatar

Viet Nam survived a late onslaught by Qatar to snatch a point in their Group B Asian Cup qualifier at Ha Noi’s My Dinh Stadium yesterday.

Viet Nam's striker Phan Thanh Binh celebrates his opening goal against Qatar

Phan Thanh Binh gave the host side the lead with a lucky goal thirteen minutes before the interval after a handling error by Qatari goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr. But with eleven minutes to go Uruguay-born Sebastian Quintana headed the ball home to rescue a priceless point for the Middle Eastern side.  

With their taller players using the long ball, the visitors showed attacking intentions from the start and piled the pressure on Viet Nam.

Quintana caused problems for the Vietnamese defense with his strong running but he missed a gilt-edged chance in the 29th minute when he ran superbly past final defender Nguyen Huy Hoang inside the box and fired in a low shot that was tipped away by a diving Duong Hong Son.

Yet it was Viet Nam that took the lead three minutes later when Qatar’s last stopper, Mohamed Saqr, who seemed nervous before the capacity crowd of Vietnamese fans, failed to hold onto Thanh Binh’s slight shot from the edge of the box and allowed the ball to roll under his body and into the net.
The opening goal lifted the host side and they almost doubled the lead in the 35th minute when midfielder Vu Phong finished off a rapid counter attack with an off-target strike.

Qatar replied soon after through Meshal Mubarak forcing another nervous clearance by goalkeeper Hong Son with a surprisingly fierce shot from 25 meters out on the right wing.

At the stroke of half time, Waleed Jasim turned in to lob a fine pass from Wesam Rizik over the crossbar before Phan Van Tai Em sent a right-footed shot from the edge of Qatar’s area narrowly wide.

The visitors pressed to level the score in the second half but the Vietnamese defense was resolute. Waleed came close in the 52nd minute when his powerful free kick from 25 meters out flew over the Vietnamese wall but was well saved by keeper Hong Son.

Abdulla Kuni wasted a glorious chance to restore parity one minute later when he headed a Saad Al Shammari long cross sky-high inside the penalty area, instead of passing to either of two teammates waiting in a better position behind him. 

Magid Mohammed was inches away from the equalizer when he fired in a side-foot shot that hit the far post back to the feet of Quintana, who struck it wide.

Most of Vietnam’s efforts in the second half were counter attack, including Phung Van Nhien curling in off-target balls from close range and Cong Vinh firing across the goalmouth after winning possession from Mostafa Abdulla.

The visitors’ efforts finally paid off eleven minutes from full time when Quintana stunned the Vietnamese fans into silence with a precise header.

A low shot by substitute Ali Afef deflected off Vietnamese defender Nguyen Hung Dung and the rebound rolled into the space where Quintana headed it home.

Qatar continued to keep the pressure on Viet Nam’s defense in the closing stages and there were many clear-cut opportunities but the host side held firm until the final whistle.

The draw keeps Viet Nam at the top of Group B, followed by Qatar, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.  

Group B
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By Hoang Uy

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