|CELEBRATION: Việt Nam players celebrate one of their two first half goals in the 3-0 win over Malaysia. Photo courtesy of VFF|
Anh Đức & Peter Cowan
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam cruised past Malaysia in their second match of the AFF cup against Malaysia with a 3-0 victory at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore on Sunday evening.
The comfortable win was a reminder of how far ahead of some of their Southeast Asian Việt Nam are, in stark contrast to the struggles of the World Cup campaign against the likes of Japan and Australia.
Coach Park Hang-seo made multiple changes to the Golden Star Warriors after the first match against Laos last Monday, bringing back captain Quế Ngọc Hải as well as other new starters to the line-up. One surprising move, however, was dropping striker Nguyễn Tiến Linh, who was replaced by Nguyễn Quang Hải.
The men in red dominated from the opening whistle and put Tan Cheng Hoe's side under pressure with high-intensity pressing. Malaysia's six-yard box was under constant bombardment with long balls over the top, and in the first minute, Công Phượng was put through on goal but fluffed his lines.
Việt Nam were in control but had to wait until the 32nd minute to open the scoring, a left-wing cutback from Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy found Quang Hải, who buried the chance with aplomb.
The second came just three minutes later when a delicious Quang Hải backheel sent Công Phượng away. The Hoàng Anh Gia Lai man held his nerve to finish calmly off the post, effectively ending the match as a contest.
With a comfortable scoreline, Việt Nam took their foot off the gas in the second half and looked to rest several key players.
Malaysia however, did not look any better in the second period and made their manager's injury woes even worse, with both starting center-backs taking a knock and forced to leave the field. Việt Nam put the icing on the cake in the 89th minute with a precise shot from the edge of the box sneaking in the far corner courtesy of Nguyễn Hoàng Đức.
A 3-0 victory put Việt Nam in the driving seat towards the semifinals with two games left. They face Indonesia on Wednesday and a victory would ensure Coach Park's men their fourth consecutive appearance in the playoffs. — VNS