|Winning shot: Striker Vu Minh Tuan of Viet Nam vies for a ball against a Kyrgyzstan player during their Asian Games' Group H match yesterday in Incheon. Viet Nam win 1-0. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HCM CITY (VNS) — Viet Nam's U23 football team overcame Kyrgyzstan 1-0 in the last group match to top Group H, earning a place in the knockout stage in the football competition at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Striker Vu Minh Tuan scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot following a handball from Kyrgyzstan to set up a second-round match against United Arab Emirates, who finished second in Group G.
Despite the loss, Kyrgyzstan still qualified for the knockout stage where they will face Jordan, who took Group G with two wins out of two matches.
Heading into the match with a place in the second round already secured, the Vietnamese side got off to a slow start to the match, in which the winners would take the group.
Kyrgyzstan were not in a hurry, as a draw would be enough for them to reach the last 16.
Viet Nam, however, had the first chance only five minutes into the match when Tuan's free kick outside the penalty area drew an acrobatic save from keeper Valerii Kashuba.
Kyrgyzstan responded with a header from defender Azamat Baimatov that forced Vietnamese keeper Tran Buu Ngoc to dive down to turn the ball across the line.
Viet Nam appeared to be in control of the match and had more possessions as the match went on.
In the 22nd minute, striker Mac Hong Quan almost put Viet Nam ahead with a header that sailed inches above the crossbar.
Giang Tran Quach Tan, however, wasted the best chance of the first half when the ball fell to him following a clumsy clearance from defender Umarov Akramzhon. Tan moved the ball inside the box with his first touch and fired a low shot with his second touch, but keeper Kashuba dove quickly enough to save the ball.
Kyrgyzstan looked to be seeking a draw rather than a win, as they kept a low formation. Their best goal-scoring opportunity came in the first minute of the first-half added time as Kichin drove a powerful shot against the crossbar following a right corner.
Viet Nam stepped up their attacks in the second half and claimed the first goal-scoring chance, but Quan could not make a neat connection to a perfect cross from Tuan.
Japanese coach Tohsyia Miura decided to bring on midfielder Tran Phi Son, who immediately made his presence felt by injecting more enthusiasm into the already lively attacking side.
The pressure Viet Nam put on the opponent finally paid dividends when from a long ball into the box, captain Azamat Baimatov had to use his hands to control the ball. He fell to the ground and referee Tayeb Hassan immediately pointed to the penalty spot.
Tuan stepped up and converted to put Viet Nam ahead after 63 minutes.
Kyrgyzstan responded strongly after losing the goal. They made all three substitutions, swarmed forwards to find an equaliser and created two excellent chances to put the match on equal terms. — VNS