|Lê Quốc Nhật Nam celebrates his equaliser. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Linh|
PHNOM PENH — Việt Nam's under-22s drew 1-1 in their final match of Group B in the 32nd SEA Games on Thursday.
The Golden Star Warriors conceded an early goal in the first half from a mistake in defence before equalising in the second half, courtesy of Lê Quốc Nhật Nam.
Having already qualified after their 2-1 win against Malaysia on Monday, Philippe Troussier brought on eight replacements to the lineup that beat Harimau Malaya to rest key players before the semi-finals.
Thailand started the match their usual way, attacking and waiting to capitalise on Việt Nam's mistakes. In the third minute, centre-back Lương Duy Cương's slip put Achitpol Keereerom through on goal.
Thailand's big target man raced past Đoàn Huy Hoàng and put the ball in the empty net, opening the score for Thailand.
Việt Nam replied just two minutes later when Lê Văn Đô sprinted from the left wing, but the striker's shot was too tame.
Although Thailand were in control most of the time, Việt Nam did have their chances from counterattacks. In the 17th minute, Trần Quang Thịnh's cross from the right wing found Khuất Văn Khang free, but the attacker's header was wide.
Although Việt Nam slowly regained possession and control, Troussier's substitute strikers were not prolific, and the first half ended 1-0 to Thailand.
Troussier brought on last SEA Games hero Phan Tuấn Tài, as well as key player Võ Minh Trọng in the second half, looking to improve the men in red's play in attack.
The changes seemed to work as Việt Nam played fluidly and forced Thai defenders into rough tackles.
In the 54th minute, a free kick by Văn Khang forced keeper Thirawooth to punch the ball away. The rebound reached Lương Duy Cương, who passed for Văn Cường to cross in deep.
Cường's cross found Ngọc Thắng, whose shot was blocked by a Thai defender, but Nhật Nam was in the right place to put away a vicious shot from 10m to equalise for Việt Nam.
Three minutes later, Thailand almost replied in kind, with a strong header from Anan, and keeper Huy Hoàng made an acrobatic save.
Hoàng's opposite number, Thirawooth, was tested in the latter part of the half.
In the 74th minute, Khuất Văn Khang fired a rocketing free kick from 20m, aiming for the top corner, but Thirawooth's flying save denied Việt Nam the winner.
Việt Nam pushed forward for the goal that would put them top of the group, but Thailand slowed down play in the final minutes, and the match ended in a stalemate.
With this result, Việt Nam will face Indonesia in the semi-finals, while Thailand will get the supposedly easier end of the draw with Myanmar.
Both matches will happen on Saturday in Phnom Penh. — VNS