|Đoàn Văn Hậu's spectacular goal in the 58th minute. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên
VIENTIANE — Việt Nam smashed six goals past Laos on Wednesday in their opening game of the 2022 AFF Cup.
Six different players were on the scoresheet for Việt Nam's biggest win in the Park Hang-seo reign.
Nguyễn Tiến Linh broke the deadlock after 15 minutes before captain Đỗ Hùng Dũng doubled the lead just before halftime. Wingbacks Hồ Tấn Tài and Đoàn Văn Hậu also found the net, before the HAGL duo of Nguyễn Văn Toàn and Vũ Văn Thanh capped off a famous victory at Vientiane.
Park had reservations before the match about Laos, saying that even the World Cup champions, Argentina, lost their opening game. Laos coach, Michael Weiss, vowed to make the game difficult for Việt Nam.
But everything turned out to be just mind games from Park, as the giant gap in quality between the two teams was plain to see, as pundits predicted. The Golden Star Warriors kept possession for 70 per cent of the game and had 27 shots.
Contrary to his pre-match quotes, Michael Weiss played defensively and parked the bus, to the point where star striker Billy Ketkeophomphone also looked for aggressive tackles.
Weiss' bus broke down in the 15th minute when Nguyễn Tiến Linh opened the scoring for Việt Nam with a fine header.
But the match was not all good news. Superstar Nguyễn Quang Hải, who surprisingly returned from France to join in this AFF Cup campaign, suffered an injury and was subbed off in the 34th minute.
Hải was replaced by his former Hanoi FC teammate, Nguyễn Văn Quyết, who made an impact just ten minutes later. His pressing led to a Laotian defender's failed clearance that found Hùng Dũng, who fired home his first-ever senior goal.
A 2-0 lead made the game easier for Việt Nam in the second half. In the 56th minute, Nguyễn Thành Chung rose above the Laotians and headed goalward, where Tấn Tài was in the post to capitalise. Two minutes later, Văn Hậu made it 4-0 after a brilliant strike with the outside of his left foot.
The HAGL trio of Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, Văn Toàn and Văn Thanh was brought on late into the game. Numerous chances went for Toàn, who has not scored in an international tournament for Việt Nam in five years.
It took Văn Toàn three attempts to eventually find his goal in the 82nd minute with a great shot from outside the box.
His teammate Văn Thanh made it 6-0 in the first minute of added time, after a sprint and one-on-one with the keeper.
The big win helped Việt Nam lead Group B after the first round, ahead of second-place Malaysia on a goal difference.
Việt Nam's next match is against Malaysia on December 27 in Mỹ Đình Stadium, Hà Nội. — VNS