Two goals in the first half and another in the nick of time helped Vietnam defeat a Malaysian side that had had a perfect start at the tourney with two overwhelming wins against Laos and Cambodia earlier this week.
Vietnam took control of Sunday’s gameplay as striker Nguyen Cong Phuong made his mark in the first 20 minutes although the two teams had a fare share of possession.
The Vietnamese strikers found it hard to break through the thick defensive line in the Malaysian box before their constant pressure could overload their rivals.
From a phase on the right flank in the 32nd minute, Tuan Anh received Hoang Duc’s pass and made a reverse pass, which was missed by Van Duc but found Quang Hai.
Hai’s left-footed finish then buried goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi at his post and found the back of the Malaysian net.
After the opening goal, the Vietnamese defense made a mistake, creating an opportunity for Luqman Hakim to face goalkeeper Nguyen Manh, but his shot sent the ball significantly wide.
Only three minutes later, Vietnam scored another goal to double the lead as Cong Phuong caught Quang Hai’s backheel, dribbling the ball through two Malaysian defenders before shooting with his left foot.
The ball hit the right post before bouncing into the net, making it 2-0 for Vietnam in the 36th minute.
As Vietnam stuck to offensive play in the remainder of the first half, Malaysia were unable to attack.
|Vietnamese striker Nguyen Cong Phuong faces Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi during their Group B match at the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore, December 12, 2021. Photo: Vietnam Football Federation
Returning after the interval, Malaysia could barely cause any trouble to goalkeeper Nguyen Manh’s woodwork, given their inferior possession rate.
Meanwhile, Vietnam made four substitutions and earned a third goal.
In the 89th minute, Tuan Anh passed the ball to Hoang Duc, who hit a clinical left-footed finish, to which goalkeeper Fahmi hardly made any reaction, capping a 3-0 victory for Vietnam.
The result sent the Golden Stars to the top of Group B with six points after two games while for Malaysia it is now a case of regrouping ahead of their final match with Indonesia on December 19, four days after Vietnam face the Red-White.
The ongoing AFF Championship, hosted by Singapore between December 5 and January 1, 2022, is the delayed organization of the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup, which was originally planned to take place at the end of last year but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The contestants have been divided into two groups.
The reigning champions, Vietnam, who claimed a 3-2 aggregate triumph over Malaysia in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup finale, were drawn in Group B alongside Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos.
Group A includes Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Timor Leste.