A solid performance was not enough for Vietnam to avoid a defeat against Saudi Arabia in Hanoi on Tuesday night, their sixth loss in a row in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Vietnam had already lost 1-3 to the Saudis in the first leg in Riyadh on September 2, 0-1 to Australia on September 7, 2-3 to China on October 8, 1-3 to Oman on October 12, and 0-1 to Japan on Thursday last week.
The hosts were offensive from the start of the game, hoping to break their series of losses with fan support on home soil at My Dinh National Stadium.
But they suffered another defeat in the final round of the World Cup qualifiers, and the second against Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia almost scored in the fourth minute after a dangerous cross from the right flank, but there were no players that could touch the ball inside the box.
The Saudis had the lion's share of ball possession and shaped a low block in the next minutes.
The Vietnamese players created a few notable counter-attacks, which the two main strikers, Nguyen Cong Phuong and Nguyen Tien Linh, failed to convert.
Saudi goalkeeper Al Yami was also successful in blocking several set-pieces from Phuong and Nguyen Quang Hai.
Saleh Al Shehri scored in the 31st minute, heading it in from a cross from the right.
Vietnamese keeper Bui Tan Truong tried to save the ball but it already went over the line.
|Vietnamese goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong tries to save a goal against Saudi Arabia in their rematch at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers in Hanoi, November 16, 2021. Photo: Minh Linh / Tuoi Tre|
Saudi Arabia almost netted again with a tap-in by Salem Al Dawsari just two minutes into the second half, but Truong was quick to catch the ball cleanly.
The Green Falcons increased pressure on Vietnam after that, before scoring again in the 78th minute.
However, after reviewing the situation on VAR, the referee disallowed the goal as Vietnamese defender Nguyen Thanh Chung had been fouled.
Vietnam mounted several strong attacks toward the end of the game, but none of them bore fruit.
The victory cemented Saudi Arabia’s top position in Group B with 16 points after six games in the final FIFA World Cup qualification round.
Vietnam remain at the bottom of the group with zero points.
They will play Australia again in January and China in February.
The final round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers is contested by two groups of six teams.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for next year’s tournament while the third-place teams will play for a spot via an inter-continental play-off.
This is the first time Vietnam have made it this far in the World Cup qualifiers.