UP FOR IT: Việt Nam’s Phạm Hải Yến and Thailand’s Phornphirun Philawan battle for the ball during the 1-1 draw in the Philippines. — Photo courtesy of VFF Facebook page
HÀ NỘI — The Việt Nam women's team kicked off their Southeast Asian Games defence with a 1-1 draw with bitter rivals Thailand at Binan Football Stadium in the Philippines earlier today.
Coach Mai Đức Chung's side came into the game knowing the winner of the game would likely advance to the semi-finals, as the two sides are heavy favourites against Indonesia, the other side in Group B.
Thailand started off on the front foot and should have been ahead 14 minutes in, but Taneekarn Dangda could only hit the post from point-blank range after a corner fell to her.
Mere seconds later, Việt Nam also rattled the woodwork through Nguyen Thi Duyet Dung as she got on the end of a low cross after a flowing counterattack.
Set pieces were a real problem for Việt Nam side, and Thailand again hit the woodwork in the 35th minute as a left-footed shot thundered off the bar after the Vietnamese failed to clear a corner.
Four minutes later the Thais again hit goalkeeper Trần Thị Kim Thanh's bar, this time striking the bar from range.
Right on the stroke of half-time, Việt Nam took the lead against the run of play as Dương Thị Vân headed home at the far post after a cross from the left.
The second period was more of the same, with Thailand causing Việt Nam all sorts of problems from dead balls.
Thailand thought they had equalised in the 52nd minute, but the goal was correctly disallowed for an offside.
As the match wound down, it seemed like Việt Nam would escape with a vital win, but there was time left for a cruel twist.
In the 87th minute, Thanh came out to collect a high, hanging cross into her box, but Dangda rose higher and met the ball with her head, nodding in to equalise.
The final whistle blew soon after, and while Việt Nam will be disappointed to have conceded so late, Thailand were good value for their goal.
Việt Nam next play Indonesia on Friday, before Thailand take on the same side three days later.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals.