|Striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn (left) looks at the ball during Việt Nam’s 4-1 win over Chinese Taipei in their World Cup qualifier match yesterday in Hà Nội. VNS Photo Quang Thắng|
HÀ NỘI – Coach Nguyễn Hữu Thắng made a perfect start with the Việt Nam football team which beat Chinese Taipei 4-1 yesterday in a joint-qualifier of the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 Asian Cup.
Lê Công Vinh and Nguyễn Văn Toàn made a double each for the hosts, while Wu Chun Ching opened the score for the visitors, at the Mỹ Đình Stadium in Hà Nội.
Thắng, however, said it was not right to view Chinese Taipei as an underdog of Group F and he was right.
Playing on an away ground with many young players who were not professional footballers, Chinese Taipei, however, inflicted a big blow on Việt Nam just seven minutes into the game.
Midfielder Lương Xuân Truờng of Việt Nam lost the ball in the central area, leading to a rapid counter-attack from Chinese Taipei from the right wing. Wu received the ball and easily netted the ball while the Vietnamese defenders could not run back in time to defend their goal.
The early goal woke Việt Nam up.
Right from the restart, Việt Nam managed to reply instantly as Phạm Thành Lương forced his way down the left flank before floating in a cross that was met by Vinh with a superb volley into the back of the net.
Keeper Chiu Yu-hung tried his best but could not keep the ball out.
The Taipei players with different backgrounds continued to push the Vietnamese defenders hard in the first 20 minutes of the match. Chen Wei Chuan and Wen Chih Hao dug big holes in the host side area but their lack of experience prevented them from scoring.
However, Thắng’s charges then edged ahead a minute before the half-hour mark when Trần Đình Hoàng’s right-wing cross was finished off by Toàn, who then made it 3-1 in the 42nd minute as he coolly lifted his shot over the onrushing Chiu after being released by Lương Xuân Trường.
It should have been a hat-trick for Toàn had he not wasted a chance early in the second half.
Now in control of proceedings, the hosts looked content to play out the remainder of the match, and the second half passed without much incident until the first minute of injury time, when Vinh latched onto another fine through-ball by Trường and sent it into the top corner to round off the scoring for his side.
“I did not think of a 4-1 win. I thought about the way we should play and the tactic we should use in this match. But let us be happy with what we have done,” Thắng said at the post-match press conference.
“The most important thing is that my players understand and strictly follow what I have told them. I have young players with skilful techniques and I am satisfied with that. However there are several weaknesses of the defence that need to be fixed,” he said.
The coach said the next rivals, Iraq, were much stronger. They were the leading team in Asia so the work would be heavier and Việt Nam should keep its tactics and free spirit to achieve a positive result.
With the victory, they are now just one point behind second-placed Iraq in the group, with both sides meeting in the neutral venue of Tehran next week in what will be a decisive encounter.
The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup. – VNS