World Cup qualifiers
Defender Do Duy Manh (number 2) rises to head the ball clear in the second half of Vietnam's 1-0 defeat to Japan. VNS Photo Doan Tung

Park Hang-seo's men performed admirably against their heavily-favoured opponents, but were unable to stave off a fifth defeat from five matches in the third round of World Cup qualifying.

The result leaves the Vietnamese side rooted to the bottom of Group B and miles away from what was always an unlikely trip to the Qatar 2022 finals.

The match was the first sporting event attended by fans in Vietnam for half a year due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, with 11,020 in attendance on a brisk night in the capital.

The Vietnamese faced a daunting task, even with the support of a lively home crowd behind them, as the Japanese side was filled with stars with bags of experience at the highest level of football in Europe.

The Japanese star power told early on, as Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino strode forward on the break and slide a delightful ball across the box for Genk winger Junya Ito, who easily finished past goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong.

Vietnam held their own for much of the rest of the half, though Japan dominated possession and always looked dangerous.

The home side's best effort in the first half came from Nguyen Cong Phuong's audacious attempt to score directly from a corner, but Shūichi Gonda saved easily, and Japan were soon on the counter.

 

The Samurai Blue put the ball in the back of the net moments later, Ito firing home a powerful finish, seemingly ending all hopes of a Vietnam comeback.

However, the goal went to a VAR review, and after a lengthy look at the replays, referee Mohamed Abdullah Hassan determined that Atomu Tanaka was in an offside position and interfering with play when Ito's shot flew past him.

The crowd erupted into celebration when the decision was announced, and the two sides went into the break with Japan holding the slenderest of leads.

However, the Vietnamese weren't able to turn the moment into a shift of momentum and spent the majority of the second half doggedly defending.

Japan always looked a threat, but failed to deliver the cutting edge to see the game off.

Vietnam's best chance came in the 89th minute when substitute Luong Xuan Truong (who replaced fellow sub Phan Van Duc) whipped a free-kick into the box, causing mayhem in the Japanese area. However the ball was eventually cleared, and the half-chance went begging.

Coach Park's men will next face Saudi Arabia at home on Tuesday night.

Source: Vietnam News

UAE referee set to officiate Vietnam vs Japan World Cup qualifier

UAE referee set to officiate Vietnam vs Japan World Cup qualifier

Referee Mohamed Abdullah Hassan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will take charge of the Vietnamese national team’s upcoming World Cup qualifier on November 11 against Japan.