By Ahmed Maher
DUBAI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s young guns beat Jordan 4-2 on penalties to reach the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup after the match finished 1-1 following extra time at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Sunday.
Jordan’s Baha Seif hit the bar and Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Van Lam saved Ahmad Saleh’s effort in the shootout to leave substitute Bui Tien Dung to convert his spot kick and send his side through to a meeting with Japan or Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
The match had finished deadlocked after 120 minutes with Jordan’s Baha Abdelrahman opening the scoring from an indirect free kick in the first half and Nguyen Cong Phuong equalising with a volley six minutes after the break.
Southeast Asian champions Vietnam poured forward in search of a winner but, for all their possession, neat interplay and stylish touches, they could not quite carve out a goal.
Jordan had beaten reigning champions Australia and Syria to win their group, while Park Hang-seo’s youthful Vietnam team had squeaked through to the last 16 by virtue of having a superior disciplinary record to Lebanon.
While there was little to separate the teams over an entertaining contest, Jordan’s muscular game ensured they had the best of the first half and they went in front in the 39th minute.
Vietnam had some grounds for grievance, first in that an indirect free kick was awarded inside the box for a high boot and secondly over whether Yousef Al-Rawashdeh actually moved the ball to tee up Abdelrahman.
There could be no complaints about the midfielder’s strike, though, as he celebrated his 120th cap by crashing the ball into the roof of the net from the left-hand edge of the area.
Going behind galvanised Vietnam and they peppered Amer Shafi’s goal before the break, the Jordan goalkeeper doing particularly well to tip Do Hung Dung’s drive over the bar.
The Jordan goal was finally breached for the first time at the tournament in the 51st minute when Nguyen Trong Hoang sent an inviting cross into the area and Phuong got between the central defenders to flick the ball into the net.
(Writing by Nick Mulvenney; editing by Clare Fallon)