HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam took a huge step towards the Qatar 2022 World Cup with a 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday.
The game at Mỹ Đình Stadium in Hà Nội means Việt Nam now lead Group G in the second round of the Asian qualifiers, thanks to Thailand’s 2-1 loss away to Malaysia the same night.
Việt Nam came into the game largely unchanged from their 3-1 win over Indonesia last month, with Nguyễn Tuấn Anh coming in for Phạm Đức Huy in midfield, while the UAE were without their all-time top scorer Ali Mabkhout due to suspension.
Coach Park Hang-seo’s team started under pressure and the away side dominated the ball in the early stages, but they didn’t manage to trouble goalkeeper Đặng Văn Lâm.
The game’s turning point came in the 37th minute, as home forward Nguyễn Tiến Linh skipped past the defence and was bundled over by last man Khalifa Al Hammadi. Japanese referee Jumpei Iida had no choice but to show him the red card.
The opening goal came six minutes later as Linh unleashed an unstoppable rocket into the top corner from 25 yards out.
The first half ended shortly afterwards with the home side in the ascendancy.
The second period was in truth a dull affair, with Việt Nam holding onto the ball and restricting the visitors to half-chances whenever they did regain possession.
Star playmaker Nguyễn Quang Hải had a chance in the 88th minute to make sure of the result after substitute Nguyễn Công Phượng squared it to him in the edge of the box, but his left-footed effort went just wide of the post.
No matter as Việt Nam saw the game out comfortably, leaving UAE manager Bert van Marwijk’s side a mountain to climb to advance to the third round of the qualifiers. While he once guided his native Netherlands to the final, that will have felt a lifetime ago in Mỹ Đình.
The result puts Việt Nam on top of Group G at the halfway point of fixtures on 10 points, ahead of second-placed Thailand with seven points.
Park Hang-seo’s men are next in action against Thailand on Tuesday in Hà Nội, with a chance to take a commanding lead in the group.
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