|Onlookers: Vietnamese striler Huynh Quoc Anh (left) watches the ball next to UAE's forward Omar Abdulrahman during their 2015 Asian Cup qualifier yesterday in Ha Noi. The UAE won 2-1. — VNS Photo Quang Thang
HA NOI (VNS) — The Gulf Cup champions United Arab Emirates defeated their Vietnamese hosts 2-1 in the opener of the 2015 Asian Cup qualifying round yesterday in Ha Noi.
Ahmed Khalil opened the score for the visitors in the seventh minute of the match from a penalty.
Oversea Vietnamese defender Michal Nguyen faulted a visiting striker in the box area, leading to a penalty shoot-out that Khalil met no difficulty converting into a goal.
The early loss was a shock to the host, who could not shape up their line-up again until the 15th minute, when they opened their first attacks.
Another overseas Vietnamese, Mac Hong Quan, made a header from teammate Pham Thanh Luong's free kick. However, this was no challenge for UAE's goalie Ali Khaseif Housani, who gave a great performance yesterday.
After only two weeks of training together, the host failed to compete against their rivals, who displayed much better shape and were in a good mood after their Gulf Cup title last month.
Striker Huynh Quoc Anh gave a remarkable solo performance trying to access UAE's box. However, he could not break the thick defence of the visitors, who immediately answered with a straight shot by Khalil that touched the cross bar.
By the end of the first half, the Vietnamese had created several chances, but it was Housani's day as he successfully prevented any goal.
Anh, however, converted one of these opportunities into a goal at the 59th minute.
The V-League champion striker beat the tall defender of UAE to make a close-range header from captain Le Tan Tai's perfect left-wing pass.
The winning goal strongly boosted the Vietnamese spirit. The team created at least three other chances for goals, but all were wasted because of Housani's talent.
The UAE secured their second goal at the 66th minute from a header by Habib Fardan Alfardan.
The win helped the UAE rebound from their 0-2 loss to Viet Nam at the Asian Cup six years ago. Their second-leg match will be on November 19.
Viet Nam's next rival will be Hong Kong on March 22 at the Mong Kok Stadium.
Hong Kong tied 0-0 with host Uzbekistan at Pakhtakor Markaziy Stadium, Tashkent yesterday. — VNS