|Head start: Nguyen Van Quyet of Viet Nam (right) and Lao defender Saynakhonevieng Phommapanya in action at the My Dinh Stadium yesterday. The hosts won 3-0. — VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Khanh
HA NOI (VNS) — Late goals from striker Le Cong Vinh and midfielder Nguyen Huy Hung gave Viet Nam a 3-0 victory over Laos at Ha Noi's My Dinh Stadium yesterday, keeping the hosts on track for a semi-final berth in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Vu Minh Tuan put Viet Nam ahead after 27 minutes with a low shot and Vinh doubled the advantage with a close-range tap six minutes from time before Hung wrapped up the victory with the third in the dying moments of the game.
With Indonesia losing 4-0 to Philippines, Viet Nam now need only one point from the last group game against Philippines to reach the semi-final stage.
"I am not satisfied with the way our players played in the first half. Lao players were very disciplined and worked hard to avoid conceding goals," Vietnamese coach Toshyia Miura said at the post-match conference.
"Our scoring ability is not good today. A lot of chances had been created but we had only three goals. The final score should have been 6-0," Miura said.
Laos's coach David Booth said his team had tried to limit the goals, but the plan did not go the way he wanted. He admitted that more goals could have been added to the final score.
"We could have kept the score at 1-0, but in the last ten minutes, Viet Nam piled a lot of pressure on us with waves of attacks," Booth said.
Miura made four changes from the starting line-up in the opening match against Indonesia, putting in Le Cong Vinh, Vo Huy Toan, Nguyen Van Bien and Nguyen Anh Duc.
Despite dominating possession, no clear-cut chances were created until mid-way through the first half. Viet Nam ploy of using long balls to break Laos's defence failed.
With Miura growing in frustration at the absence of goals, the players changed their approach and obtained results almost immediately.
In the 27th minute, industrious captain Le Tan Tai got the ball, rushed forward and passed to Vu Minh Tuan, who outpaced Laos defenders and hit a low ball past goalkeeper Seng Athit Somvang.
The goal failed to spark the team, which was obviously were short of ideas on translating possession into goal-scoring opportunities for the rest of the first half. They were even booed by fans at times.
Laos opted to play a counter-attacking game and troubled the Vietnamese defence briefly, but never came close to scoring.
Viet Nam started the second half with a substitution in the goal but there was no change in the way the hosts had been playing. Miura brought on Nguyen Van Quyet in the 55th minute and the difference he made was immediately apparent.
With only one goal separating the teams, Miura used his last substitution to bring in Pham Thanh Luong in the 75th minute and a brace of goals upped the score to 3-0.
Philippines 4, Indonesia 0
In the earlier game of the day, Philippines stunned Indonesia 4-0 to become the first team to reach the semi-finals.
Phil Younghusband opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 16th minute. Midfielder Manuel Ott doubled the advantage with a long-range shot into the high corner of the net seven minutes into the second half.
Martin Steuble made it 3-0 with a shot inside the penalty area in the 68th minute.
From the 73rd minutes on, Indonesia were reduced to 10 men when Rizki Pora was sent off for a professional foul.
Robert Gier completed a comprehensive victory with the fourth goal in the 79th minute, tapping in a rebound from close-range after his first effort hit the left-hand post.
Philippines coach Thomas Dooley said he was surprised at the result, but happy to see his team through to the semi-finals.
"It is not the result we expected ahead of the match but we controlled the game from the beginning and created many chances," Dooley said.
Indonesian coach Alfred Riedl accepted responsibility for the defeat, but said: "[The match was] an unfit team playing against a fit team and physically our players are not at the same level with the Filipino players. We only had few days to prepare for the tournament," Riedl told in the post-match conference.
The loss left Indonesia's chances of qualifying for the semi-final stage hanging by a thread. — VNS