Group D: Iraq make it three wins but Vietnam make them work for it

January 24 – Iraq completed a clean sweep of Group D at the Asian Cup as they converted a last-gasp stoppage time penalty to beat brave 10-man Vietnam in the most dramatic of circumstances.

The underdogs thought they had stolen an unlikely point in the last  minute of normal time, only to have it cruelly snatched from their grasp when Aymen Hussein, who had already missed from the spot, made no mistake second time round.

Four years ago, the Iraqis were eliminated by eventual champions Qatar in the round of 16 but now march proudly forward after their first ever group stage treble win.

Having already qualified, they made 10 changes but had to bring on several of their big guns to get them over the line.

Even then they found Vietnam, who played the whole of the second half with 10 men, a tough nut to crack, managing only four shots on target despite 22 efforts on goal.

The game had little riding on it but was still highly watchable as Vietnam played for pride knowing they were already exiting the tournament.

They thought they had taken the lead on 17 minutes when Iraq defender Zaid Tahseen Hantoosh stuck out boot to deflect  Vo Minh Trong’s cross into his own net.  But VAR came to Iraq’s rescue, disallowing the goal for offside by the most miniscule of margins.

It was a reprieve that should have sparked Iraq into life. Instead on 40 minutes, the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha was silenced when  Bui Hoang Viet Ahn ran unmarked into the box to volley home a beautifully flighted freekick.

Right on halftime, however, Vietnam were reduced to 10 men when Khuat Van Khang, who had already been booked for simulation, received his marching orders for a high challenge on Merchas Ghazi Salih.

It was precisely the spur Iraq needed, bringing on Aymen in the first of series of second-half subs. And within two minutes of the restart they were level, Rebin Sulaka, in his second international spell, powering home a header from a corner.

With their one-man advantage, Iraq proceeded to camp themselves in Vietnam’s half but it took until the 72nd minute to open them up again as Aymen split the Vietnamese back line and thundered home another header.

It should soon have been 3-1, only for the same player to hit the post with an 82nd minute penalty awarded courtesy of another VAR check.

Vietnam, understandably perhaps, had offered little as a second-half attacking force but on 90 minutes stunned their illustrious opponents, Nguyen Quang Hai finishing off after a neat build-up with a well-controlled strike.

That should have been that but with virtually the last kick of 11 added-on minutes, Vietnam paid the price for a fatal lapse of concentration as Vo Minh Trong up-ended Youssef Wali Amyn, who had stolen in unmarked.

There was only ever going to be one man to take the penalty and this time Aymen buried the spot kick in the corner beyond the desperate dive of Nguyen Filip, scoring his fifth goal of the tournament and in the process breaking Vietnamese hearts and sending them home without a point to show for their efforts.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1711665891labto1711665891ofdlr1711665891owedi1711665891sni@w1711665891ahsra1711665891w.wer1711665891dna1711665891

 


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