Vietnam topped Group A after their third-round win over the Philippines in Hanoi on September 15 as part of the ongoing ASEAN Football Federation Vietcombank U19 Youth Championship.
Not as easily as expected, Coach Hoang Anh Tuan’s players had to give it their all to defeat the Philippines with the close score of 4-3.
After two matches with one win and one draw against Timor Leste and Singapore, the team is yet to convince home fans in both their gameplay and results. Meeting the Philippines, who had lost both of their last two matches, it was seen as an opportunity for Vietnam to assert their strength.
Facing weaker opponents, however, Vietnam, with additional players who are currently playing in the V-League, such as Phan Thanh Hau, Tien Linh, and Tong Anh Ty, continued to cause worries for their fans. Even in the first half, both defensive and attack lines of U19 Vietnam exposed a range of weaknesses.
An early goal in the 10th minute from a penalty kick taken by Ha Duc Chinh did not help the team play a more controlled game. Vietnamese players faced a range of difficulties in organising attacks.
In the 19th minute, Vietnam’s defensive line fumbled, allowing Mark Winhoffer to direct the ball inside the penalty area before launching his closing shot which was deflected off of a Vietnamese player’s leg and went straight into the net.
The worst was yet to come. The left wing of Vietnam continued to face pressure only five minutes later when Kintaro Miyagi received Jeremiah Borlongan’s pass and netted a second goal for the Philippines.
Two consecutive goals in five minutes shook the Vietnamese players awake and just two minutes later, after a pass from Trong Hoa, Tien Anh scored from close range, leveling the score 2-2 before the end of the first half.
In the second half, Vietnam strengthened attacks with passes directly down the middle, which proved to be effective; witnessing another goal in the 60th minute thanks to Tran Thanh’s shot from the penalty area.
One minute later, Ha Duc Chinh took advantage of mistakes by the opponents’ defensive line to increase the lead to 4-2.
Vietnam seemed to be in the clear until the last minutes when the team faced a range of difficulties in defending as the Philippines created several scoring opportunities.
Mark Winhoffer narrowly missed out on a second goal when his shot hit the crossbar after Vietnam’s defenders were nowhere to be seen.
A tragic day for Vietnam’s defensive line ended in the 90th minute as midfielder Ngoc Bao scored an own-goal to help the Philippine narrow the score to 3-4.
Luckily, Vietnam survived the remaining four minutes of injury time to maintain a 4-3 victory.
The narrow win helped Vietnam stay on top of Group A with seven points after three matches. They will play Malaysia next on September 19.