AFC - Host nation Vietnam recovered from conceding an early goal to produce a devastating second half performance, and put themselves 90 minutes away from the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup with a 6-1 win over the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday.
In addition to bagging three crucial points, the margin of victory leaves Mai Duc Chung’s side sitting on top of the Group D standings ahead of second-placed Myanmar on goal difference. Avoiding defeat when the two teams meet on Tuesday will now secure them a prized place in Jordan.
Iran began the match in a distinctly positive manner, their impressive physicality and organisation preventing Vietnam from making any significant early inroads.
With the Iranians continuing to hold firm, Zahra Ghanbari then temporarily turned the group on its head when her sweetly struck free-kick flew in from twenty-five yards to give Maryam Azmoun’s side a surprise lead after just eight minutes.
Vietnam responded to the challenge with an increased sense of urgency, one which was rewarded when outstanding winger Nugyen Thi Tuyet Dung outpaced the Iranian defence before hammering the ball past goalkeeper Zomorod Soleimani from close range.
The goal was to effectively change the mood of the match, and with Nguyen Thi Lieu and Huynh Nunh increasingly influential as the half went on, the Southeast Asians duly doubled their lead in the 25th minute, this time Pham Hai Yen powerfully heading home Tuyet Dung’s corner.
Having established a foothold in the game, Vietnam continued to press after the break and the outstanding Huynh Nhu effectively ended the game as a contest when she was on hand to force the ball home after a goalmouth scramble to make it 3-1.
Nguyen Thi Hoa’s perfectly placed header duly made it four, while Pham Hai Yen’s second headed goal of the night made it 5-1 on 79 minutes.
Huynh Nhu’s sensational volley on the turn three minutes later brought an end to the scoring and a game which edged Vietnam ever closer to next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Iran head coach Maryam Azmoun:
“I congratulate Vietnam, and we pray for the Vietnamese team to go to Jordan. We had a very strong start and we’re very proud of our team for the first 20 or 30 minutes, but where we are coming from plays a big part in our performance. We have to go back home and train, and learn from this. It’s very important for the future development of women’s football that when we go back we still have the support. In Myanmar versus Singapore we saw Myanmar’s level dropped. It will be a good match but I think that Vietnam will definitely win.”
Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chung:
“We weren’t at our best for the first 20 minutes, but we appreciate the Iranian performance. They were very strong and we lost a bit of our confidence at the start of the match. I put pressure on the players to focus more on the match. I don’t care about goal difference; I care about the three points. We have the home advantage; we have the crowd. There’s no reason why we should think about a draw. Huynh Nuh is very small, but she’s also very skilful. I told her before the game that she must score, because that is her job. I’m still not satisfied with our strikers. They’ve scored a lot of goals, but they still missed so many chances.”
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