Việt Nam player Nguyễn Đắc Huy (centre) celebrates his goal against Russia. Photo fifa.com
HÀ NỘI - Việt Nam are out of the Futsal World Cup after they were beaten by old foes Russia 3-2 in the last eight of the knock out stages in Vilnious, Lithuania.
They matched their historic performance from Colombia five years ago when once again they fell at the hands of the same opponent at exactly the same stage.
But this time it was by the narrowest of margins compared to the 7-0 drubbing dished out by Russia five years ago.
Việt Nam can take pride in their futsal heroics on the world stage.
They are the only team from Asia to have made the last eight not once, but twice in consecutive tournaments.
Russia will have clearly done the homework and studied Việt Nam’s performances against stronger opposition, knowing full well the Golden Warriors would not fold easily.
Victory against Panama in the group stages, and a well-earned draw with the Czech Republic were enough to see Việt Nam go through against teams considered stronger opponents.
The match began with 2016 silver medalists Russia on the attack. Yanar Asadov, Artem Antoshkin, Sergei Abramov and Danil Davydov continuously all tested Vietnamese keeper Hồ Văn Ý.
But Ý proved why he was voted world top 10 keeper of 2018 denying all of their early attempts.
Eventually though the pressure paid off and Robinho broke the deadlock in the 11th minute with a close-range tap in to Ý’s left corner. Ý tried to narrow Robinho’s angle but he could not block the rapid low finish of the Brazilian-born player.
Việt Nam, playing with a strong defence, also had their chances on the counterattack through Nguyễn Văn Hiếu, one of five best young players of the tournament, and Nguyễn Đắc Huy, who could not practise the day before because of his foot injury.
Russia made it 2-0 in the 17th minute when Ivan Chishkala netted after taking the ball from a sideline kick.
Just 20 seconds after Russia's second goal, Huy narrowed the lead to 2-1. The 30-year-old forward received a perfect pass from Nhan Gia Hưng, the youngest player on the team, from the right wing and made no mistake to score with a header from close range.
Artem Niiazov and Abramov continued to threaten Việt Nam’s net in the beginning of the second half. They overcame Việt Nam’s players but were denied by both posts.
Their tireless attempts paid off on 29 minutes when Chishkala attacked on the left wing and his shot past both Minh Tri and keeper Y to find the net. It was his second goal of the game and fifth of the tournament
Pham Đức Hòa of Việt Nam scores his team's second goal in the 3-2 defeat to Russia. Photo fifa.com
Việt Nam, whose head coach Phạm Minh Giang could not take charge because of his positive result for COVID-19 before kick off, found less chances as the half moved to power-play style in the last seven minutes of the match. And it paid off in the 38th minute when Phạm Đức Hòa took the ball in the box and unleashed an unstoppable shot to narrow the gap once more.
In the closing stages, the team in red piled on the pressure but couldn't find the net and the match finished 3-2 to Russia.
“We played this match for our teammate Vũ Đức Tùng (who suffered heavy injury from the previous match) and our great supporters,” said striker Huy after the match.
“We did everything we could and I believe that we have made big steps on the world stage.”
Meanwhile skipper Trần Văn Vũ who returned to game after being sidelined last match said despite the loss, it was a great performance by Việt Nam.
He also agreed that Việt Nam played better than in 2016 because they had far more experience.
Former national captain Nguyễn Bảo Quân said he was proud with what his successors did in Lithuania.
“They have good tactics, almost no individual mistakes, scored more goals and they were unlucky not to draw level with Russia near the end,” said Quân.
“Russia played with caution against Việt Nam as they saw the way the Southeast Asian team played against Panama and the Czech Republic."
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed this year event, and Việt Nam will have a chance to bounce back in 2024.
No venue has been chosen yet to host the next World Cup, but India, Morocco, Mexico, the US, Guatemala and Russia have all expressed interest.
One thing’s for sure, after midfielder Hiếu was selected as one of the best five young players at this World Cup, Việt Nam know they have a good chance to go further if Hiếu develops with the rest of the squad over the next three years. VNS