Vietnam secured a hard-fought 2-1 win against Malaysia on Friday night to stay top of Group G in the second qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The game at Al-Maktoum Stadium saw Vietnam extend their unbeaten streak since the opening of the second round to seven matches.
Both teams, with incomparable performances, had clear chances in the first 15 minutes. But neither managed to turn them into a goal.
From a left corner kick by Xuan Truong in the 27th minute, which Malaysian defenders failed to completely solve, Doan Van Hau headed to pass to Nguyen Tien Linh, who also struck the ball across the goal with his head to open the score for Vietnam.
Vietnamese goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong jumped to deny a close-range header by Syafiq in the 39th minute.
In the 45th minute, Malaysia were given a free kick, in which Safawi also failed to beat Truong.
Two minutes into the second half, Malaysian defender Sumareh was given a yellow card for fouling Van Hau before his teammate Kutty followed suit with another fault in the 51st minute.
The Vietnamese side performed a dangerous counter-attack in the central zone in the 56th minute, when Nguyen Cong Phuong led the ball to the penalty box and finished with his left leg. But Phuong’s shot just missed the post.
Pham Duc Huy and Vu Van Thanh substituted Phuong and Luong Xuan Truong in the 57th minute, respectively.
|Vietnamese goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong jumps to deny a close-range header by Malaysia's Syafiq in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in the UAE, June 11, 2021. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre|
Another quick counter-attack by Vietnamese players saw Nguyen Hoang Duc moving the ball to penalty area and passing it through a sea of legs to Nguyen Trong Hoang, whose strike, however, went outside the goal.
The Malaysian had their equalizer scored by De Paula through a penalty kick in the 72th minute after Van Hau had touched the ball with his hand in the 18-yard box.
But the Golden Dragons regained their lead ten minutes later with a similar penalty converted by Que Ngoc Hai.
Malaysian players’ aggressiveness in the remainder, exemplified by two more yellow cards, could not get them a second equalizer.
With three points from the 2-1 win, Vietnam cemented their top spot in Group G and maintained their distance of two points with group hosts the UAE, who thrashed Indonesia 5-0 in another fixture on the same night.
Thailand and Malaysia place third and fourth on nine points while Indonesia are still rock bottom with a single point.
Vietnam are slated to clash with the UAE on June 15.
The second qualifying round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, hosted by Qatar next year, have been competed by 40 teams drawn into eight groups of five to play home and away round-robin matches since September 5, 2019.
Group leaders will win direct tickets to the last qualifying round.