Vietnam produced a perfect start to their 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign as Park Hang-seo’s side made light work of Laos 3-0 in their Group A opener at the Laos National Stadium in Vientiane on November 8.
Cong Phuong opens the scoring for Vietnam.
Park demonstrated his ambition for bagging the full three points against Laos by naming his strongest starting squad, with Que Ngoc Hai, Dinh Trong, and Duy Manh in the defensive line and favourites Nguyen Cong Phuong, Nguyen Van Quyet, Nguyen Anh Duc, and Nguyen Quang Hai in the attacking line.
Vietnam proactively put up pressure right from the first whistle and dominated ball possession in the opening minutes. Xuan Truong threatened the Lao goal six minutes into the first half with a long-range strike from a distance of 30 metres.
Cong phuong concretised Vietnam’s domination after 11 minutes, as he beat Lao goalkeeper Praseuth with a close-range strike after taking the ball from Van Hau.
The lopsided game still remained in favour of the Vietnamese side in the remaining of the first half, with Xuan Truong, Anh Duc and Van Quyet producing consecutive shots at the Lao goal.
Trong Hoang would have doubled Vietnam’s advantage a few minutes before the break if it had not been for the brilliance of Lao goalie Praseuth.
However, Anh Duc managed to make it 2-0 for Park’s side before half time by slotting in from close range after a strike that hit the post by Xuan Truong in injury time.
After the break, Lao players intensified their attacks seeking to net the ball, but it was the Vietnamese side that created more opportunities to score.
Vietnamese keeper Van Lam denied two attempts from the Lao side before Xuan Truong forced the Lao goalie to make a smart save seven minutes from the hour mark.
Two minutes later, Quang Hai scored a third goal for Vietnam with a left-footed freekick that proved cunning enough to defeat the Lao keepr.
The score should have been 4-0 in favour of Park’s side if Cong Phuong’s 77th-minute goal had not been ruled offside.
With a convincing 3-0 victory, Vietnam temporarily lead Group A with three points, while Malaysia settle for second place following their 1-0 triumph over Cambodia.
Next up for Vietnam will be a home-field clash with Malaysia on November 16.