Vietnam were able to advance to the round of 16 of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the UAE, which wrapped up its group stage on Thursday, thanks to a ‘fair play’ rule that allowed them to progress despite having the same points and a goal difference as Lebanon.
The Golden Stars finished third in Group D with three points, earned from their 2-0 win over Yemen on Wednesday. After that, it was a waiting game until the end of the last round of group-stage competition to see if those three points were enough for them to advance to the next stage as one of the top four third-place finishers in the Cup.
With Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, and Oman already having qualified as the three best third placed teams, Lebanon needed to beat North Korean by four goals in their last Group E game last night.
The Lebanese eventually fell short by one goal as they routed North Korea 4-1.
The win gave Lebanon an identical point tally, goal difference, and goals scored to Vietnam.
Thanks to the fair play rule, Vietnam, who won the Southeast Asian championship last month, wound up being pushed on to the next round for receiving fewer penalty cards than Lebanon.
Vietnam had accumulated five yellow cards throughout the group stages, compared to six by their Lebanese rivals.
The one-card difference was enough to send Vietnam through to the knockout stage, which begins this Sunday.
Vietnam will face Jordan on January 20, while Southeast Asian neighbours Thailand will take on China the same day.