Vietnamese football lovers’ wish to celebrate their beloved team’s brave performance at the Group D opener of the ongoing 2019 AFC Asian Cup was shattered as Iraq scored a stoppage-time goal that earned them a 3-2 win in the UAE on Tuesday night.
The two sides entered the game in Abu Dhabi with Vietnam seen as the underdogs. But it was the Golden Stars who opened the score in the 25th minute.
Quang Hai stole the ball from the Iraqi side before delivering a brilliant through-ball to Cong Phuong, who managed to escape his opponents’ defense line to face goalkeeper Hassan.
Iraqi player Ali Faez Atiyah scored an own goal for Iraq as he attempted to clear the ball from danger after Phuong’s shot.
|Vietnam's Cong Phuong celebrates after scoring a goal during their match against Iraq at the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE, January 8, 2019. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
But it only took the Lions of Mesopotamia ten minutes to find the equalizer.
Vietnam’s Duy Manh could not completely block a through-ball, creating a clear chance for Mohanad Kadhim to win the ball over Ngoc Hai and beat Vietnamese goalkeeper Van Lam to level the score.
Vietnam, who won the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Championship last month, continued to wow fans in the 42nd minute, when striker Cong Phuong scored the ball into Iraq’s empty net.
Vietnam were in the 2-1 lead at half-time, prompting Iraq to start the second half with more pressure put on their opponents in search of another equalizer.
The Iraqi got what they sought in the 60th minute, when they caused a chaos in Vietnam’s penalty area and eventually managed to clear.
A cross from the left was headed high by Hussein, but Vietnamese goalie Van Lam managed to push away the effort. The ball bounced back but Duy Manh failed to clear it, allowing Humam Tariq to score the equalizer for Iraq.
While Vietnam took the lead twice in a match they appeared fearless in front of Iraq, who won the Asian Cup in 2007, the Golden Stars had a 2-2 draw slipped through their fingers, when Adnan scored the decisive goal with a curling free kick in the 89th minute to settle the game.
Vietnam will face Iran, one of the tournament’s top contenders, during their second Group D game on January 12.
The 2019 AFC Asian Cup is the 17th edition of the quadrennial international men's football championship of Asia organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which runs in the UAE from January 5 to February 1.