|Good game: Vietnamese midfielder PhamThanh Luong celebrates his goal in yesterday's match between Viet Nam and the Philippines. — Photo vnexpress.net
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam produced their best performance so far at the ongoing Southeast Asian Football Championship to beat the Philippines 3-1 in the last group game, marching into the semi-finals as Group A winners.
Midfielder Ngo Hoang Thinh opened the scoring with a long-distance shot from 30 yards out in the first half. Vu Minh Tuan doubled the advantage five minutes into the second half before Pham Thanh Luong made it 3-0 after just 57 minutes.
The Philippines' only goal was scored by substitute Paul Mulders on the mark of the hour.
With the loss, the Philippines enter the last four as runners-up.
"Congratulations to Viet Nam. They had a very good game today and the opening goal was not something we had expected when it came within the first 10 minutes and from 30 yards out and that killed our strategy," Thomas Dooley said. "In the last 20 minutes we created some chances and could have added goals."
Despite beating the Philippines, Viet Nam's head coach Toshyia Miura was not completely pleased with his team's performance. But he protected the striker Le Cong Vinh, who could have scored at least one goal if he had been faster.
"I do not think Viet Nam have any strikers faster than Vinh. He has performed well in the last three games," Miura said.
The Philippines made only two changes with captain Ro Gier and Mark Andrew Hartmann starting the match, while Viet Nam had three changes in the starting line-up as Nguyen Van Quyet, Ngo Hoang Thinh and Nguyen Xuan Thanh began the match.
Only a minute into the match Vinh had an excellent chance, but missed it partly because of his lack of pace.
In the next minutes, Viet Nam, who quickly settled into their passing game, pushed the opponent back to their own half and constantly put the Philippines's goal under threat.
It looked like it would be a matter of time for Viet Nam to get the opening goal and it came after just nine minutes following a mistake from Misagh Medina Bahadoran.
Bahadoran cleared the ball to Thinh, who played it to Vinh. The striker passed it back to Thinh. The midfielder took the ball forwards with one touch and without being marked and a huge space ahead, Thinh unleashed a low, fierce shot that flew straight into the low corner of the far post beyond the reach of keeper Patrick Phillip Bravo Deyto.
The goal sparked the game as the Philippines began pressing Viet Nam, but their simple play was easily countered by a concentrated Vietnamese backline and hard-working midfielders.
It was the hosts who dictated the game and had the best chances, only for Filipino defenders to read the game well and take timely challenges to keep the 1-0 score unchanged into the break.
Just like the first half, Viet Nam started brighter and got the second goal five minutes into the half. Thinh, who scored the opening goal, turned the provider by passing the ball to Tuan on the right wing. The striker raced past static Sato and fired in a low shot to the far corner of the net to double the lead.
Only seven minutes later, Luong made it 3-0 for the 2008 champions. Right winger Que Ngoc Hai passed the ball to Vinh, who passed it to Quyet, who crossed it to Luong, who saw space ahead and drove in the ball that stunned Deyto.
The Philippines got their consolation goal through substitute Paul Mulders, who volleyed in Jerry Ruben Lucena's right-flank cross.
It was all the Philippines could do. Viet Nam easily saw out the match and marched into the semi-finals as Group A winners.
In the other match, Indonesia beat Laos 5-1 to leave the tournament with their dignity intact. — VNS