Vietnam extended their historic run in men’s football at the 2018 Asian Games (Asaid) in Indonesia on Monday, sealing a 1-0 win against Syria in a 120-minute quarterfinal thriller to set up a semifinal with South Korea.
Vietnam, the only Southeast Asian representatives to remain at the competition, continued to play bravely against the Syrians, with goalie Bui Tien Dung pulling off a string of incredible saves to preserve his clean sheet for the fifth consecutive game.
After a tense and goalless 90 minutes, during which there were few chances for both teams, the quarterfinal match entered extra time, with the prospect of a penalty shootout looming.
Either team was able to score in the first half of extra time, before a pair of Vietnamese substitutes, Anh Duc and Van Toan, combined for a beautiful goal that settled the game in the 108th minute.
Anh Duc got the ball from a long pass by defender Bui Tien Dung from the home field, but his shot just touched the bar. As the ball bounced back, Van Toan did not waste the golden opportunity to net the winner.
The Syrians failed to convert any of their last-ditch efforts into an equalizer, while Vietnamese fans held their breath until the referee blew his whistle.
The 1-0 win in overtime allowed Vietnam to become one of the top four strongest teams at Asia’s biggest sporting playground for the ‘king of sport’ for the first time, marking a new milestone in the country’s football history.
Vietnam will play their dream semifinal with defending champions South Korea, who edged past Uzbekistan 4-3 in another thrilling quarterfinal on the same night, while Japan will face UAE in the other semifinal, both on Wednesday.
The quarterfinal victory also increased Vietnam’s record of keeping their sheet clean to five games.
After the match, football lovers took to the streets across Vietnam to revel in their historic victory, celebrating the first-ever presence of their men’s football team in an Asian Games semifinal.
The team’s ongoing historic run at the Games is greatly credited to their head coach, South Korean Park Hang-seo, who has carried out clever strategies in every of his matches at the competition so far, according to Vietnamese football experts.
Earlier this year, the respectful manager also played an important role in taking Vietnam to their once-in-a-lifetime final at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China. The Vietnamese lost 1-2 to Uzbekistan in a snowy showdown then.
Monday also brought Vietnamese sports supporters a splash of happiness as long jumper Bui Thi Thu Thao pocketed the country’s second gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.