|Lê Đình Long Vũ's tricked the Thai goalkeeper bto double the lead for Việt Nam, in the the 24th minute. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết|
PHÚ THỌ — Việt Nam under-17s beat local rivals Thailand by three goals to nil in their final match of the 2021 AFC U17 Asian Cup qualifiers Group F on Sunday.
Nguyễn Công Phương opened the scoring for Việt Nam in the 20th minute, before Lê Đình Long Vũ doubled the lead just five minutes later. Phan Thanh Đức Thiện added third goal at the end of the first half to seal Việt Nam's victory.
The last time Việt Nam and Thailand met, the Golden Star Warriors won 2-0 in the AFF Under-16 Championship. However, many pundits did not predict an easy victory for Nguyễn Quốc Tuấn's boys this time around.
It was Thailand who started the better at Việt Trì Stadium, with great passing plays in their own half. The War Elephants needed a win to claim top spot, and direct qualification for the finals in 2023, whereas the hosts needed only just a draw.
After ten minutes of Thai domination, Việt Nam soon began to reclaim the game. They broke the deadlock on the 20th minute from a set piece.
A free kick was given near the six-yard box, where captain Nguyễn Công Phương replicated one of his idols, Cristiano Ronaldo's greatest goals, by rocketing the ball into the top corner. Phương later celebrated the goal with a "Siu" celebration similar to CR7.
Having gone one behind, Thailand pushed forward to even up the score. They almost succeeded if Tontawan capitalised on a mistake by keeper Phạm Đình Hải.
The worries seemed to disappear just five minutes later, when Lê Phát hit a great through ball in the half-space for Lê Đình Long Vũ who had only the keeper to beat. Vũ fooled keeper Tissanu and doubled Việt Nam's advantage.
With the crowd in Việt Trì Stadium behind them, Việt Nam continued their pressing plays and forced Thailand back in their own half. Striker Phongpech was brought on, but his team conceded a third goal just after his substitution.
In the 39th minute, Thailand lost possession in a dangerous area, and the ball went to Phan Thanh Đức Thiện, who made a great turn and his left footed strike caught Tissanu off guard. This was Thiện's first goal in the qualifiers, and a great boost to the young striker's confidence, who was criticised in the first two matches by pundits.
In the second half, Việt Nam took their foot off the gas and played defensively. Mistakes were made by the men in red but Thailand could not capitalise.
Siwat and Kritakan had chances from long range, but their shots went way off target. In the 65th minute, Phongpech got his head to Surachai's cross but put his effort over the bar.
The match's pace slowed down tremendously in the final minutes and ended with a 3-0 victory for Việt Nam, to the cheers of the spectators of Phú Thọ.
With this victory, Việt Nam completed their U17 Asian Cup qualifiers journey flawlessly, with nine points to their name, scoring twelve and conceding none. Nguyễn Quốc Tuấn's youngsters have directly qualified for the finals in 2023, whereas Thailand narrowly qualified, through the virtue of being the fifth best runners-up.
Việt Nam's neighbour, Laos, also qualified as runners-up of group I.
The final tournament's host country in 2023 is still being decided by AFC. — VNS