Vietnam and Nepal got off to a slow start as both teams tried to establish dominance in midfield. After a 3-0 victory against Pakistan in the first match, Vietnam got to dictate the pace of the game as they only needed a draw to proceed to the knock-out stage.
As the game gathered momentum, Vietnam showed their deadly skill in counter-attacking, especially with their fast wing play. They created several good openings in front of Nepal’s goalpost but the score remained 0-0.
When there were no more than five minutes left in the first half, Vietnamese striker Nguyen Anh Duc opened the scoreline with a header after he found himself unmarked in the box to receive a cross by Phan Van Duc from the right during a quick counter-attack.
Duc, 32, is the oldest player from the relatively young Vietnamese squad at this year’s ASIAD in Indonesia. The first half ended with Vietnam holding a one-goal advantage.
Coach Park Hang-seo made no adjustment to his squad as the referee blew his whistle to begin the second half.
Vietnam made clear that more than luck explained why they were the runner-up at the AFC U23 2018 Championship. Van Duc doubled the Southeast Asian team’s lead in the 63rd minute of the game with a quick shoot in the box followed an excellent set up by Anh Duc, bringing the score to 2-0 for Vietnam.
After the first two matches, Vietnam and Japan are dead even with 6 points, 5 goals scored and zero goals conceded. The last match of group D between the two leaders will decide the final order of the group with Vietnam and Japan certain to proceed to the next stage at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium in Cikarang, West Java.