Malaysia U-23 2-1 Vietnam U-23: Tigers book semi-final spot
Malaysia remain on course to defend their SEA Games title after overcoming an awkward Vietnam side by two goals to one.
The Vietnamese team looked dangerous on the counter throughout the half, and their first significant chance came on 12 minutes. Captain Nguyen Van Quyet brought the ball forward and played the ball to Le Van Thang who broke into the box from the left-hand side, however his sidefoot effort across goal was saved well by Tarmizi Roslan in the Malaysia goal.
Roslan did not cover himself in glory in the 28th minute however, as he spilled a routine free-kick from 25 yards from Manh Hung Pham, almost palming it into his own goal. From the resulting corner Vanh Thang rose highest but was unable to steer his header on target.
With Vietnam needing a victory from this fixture, and Malaysia only requiring a draw, it was no surprise to see the reds do much of the attacking and they had two quick fire chances as the first half drew to a close.
Firstly Malaysia captain Irfan Fazail was dispossed, allowing Van Thang to drive forward and unleash a low effort which whistled wide. Less than a minute later and Vu Minh Tuan crossed for Van Thang, Roslan once again flapped at the ball but was let off the hook as Van Thang’s his downward header went into the side netting.
On the stroke of half time Malaysia proved that they too possessed a goal threat, as Arasu received the ball in the Vietnam area with his back to the goal, but his spin and subsequent effort went high and wide. With almost the last kick of the half Vietnam talisman Van Thang again broke with pace and had an excellent rising effort on goal, but Roslan was equal to it preserving the 0-0 score at the break.
Into the second half and it was again Vietnam who dominated, with Malaysia defending deeply and scrapping well. On 64 minutes they had yet another opporunity, as Van Quyet chested Dinh Tien Tranh’s cross into the direction of an onrushing Van Thang, but Roslan saved his low effort well.
In the 79th minute Vietnam were mere inches away from taking the lead on the evening. Once again it was Van Quyet causing a nuisance of himself, and he burst into the area leaving Saad Shahrul for dead. His low shot-cum-cross across the goalmouth was almost met by Hoang Danh Ngoc, but he could not quite stretch out to steer the ball home.
Just when it seemed that the game would end in a stalemate, Harimau Muda took the lead against the run of play with ten minutes remaining. It was a smart control and finish by Ashri Chuchu who converted a right-wing cross that Vietnam defender Danh Ngoc got caught underneath, lashing the ball past a helpless Buu Ngoc.
With the goal Malaysia grew in confidence and could have made it 2-0 five minutes later, as Arasu flicked on a long ball from the back into the path of Irfan Fazail. The Malaysia captain beat the keeper to the ball but his lobbed effort just went wide of the post.
The feeling that it just wasn’t Vietnam’s night must have hit them in the 90th minute. Firstly Vietnam’s Mac Hong Quan was again denied by the imperious Roslan, before Malaysia swept up the other end and made it 2-0. It was Deandrn Saarvindran who was fed by Fazail, and he cut inside Nguyen Thanh Hien before dispatching clinically.
Vietnam did eventually get on the scoresheet in the 95th minute, as Mac Hong Quan needed two chances to fire past Roslan, but it was too little too late as Malaysia held on for the win which eliminates Vietnam, and sets up a semi-final against Indonesia on Thursday.