After impressively thrashing Brunei 7-0 in their opening fixture of the SEA Games, few would have bet against Vietnam brushing aside Singapore on Tuesday night.
This was especially after the Young Lions could only muster a disappointing 1-1 draw against 10-man Laos two days ago.
Instead, it was Singapore that came out on top after a hard fought 1-0 victory in their second group game thanks to Sahil Suhaimi’s second goal of the tournament in first-half injury time.
Vietnam tried their best but were unable to unlock a resolute Singapore defense, led by the brilliant defensive partnership of Safuwan Baharudin and Afiq Yunos.
The result means Singapore are right back in contention to qualify for the semi-finals as they sit at the top of Group A with four points, while Vietnam and Malaysia are tied with three points apiece.
Vietnam started the game brightly as Le Van Thang got behind Shakir Hamzah in the second minute and struck a shot from the right that looped just over the goal.
Still, despite their dominance, they barely troubled Singapore custodian Izwan Mahbud.
Singapore struggled to retain the ball and there was no real flow in their passing, but they slowly grew into the game as the match progressed.
The Young Lions’ first chance came on 11 minutes when Faris Ramli took a shot from outside the penalty box, but the ball went wide off the post. It was all Vietnam after that as they looked to find an opening.
But for all of Vietnam’s possession and attacking impetus, they conceded a goal right before the break against the run of play, as Sahil's deflected strike went past the helpless Vietnamese goalkeeper.
Vietnam started the second half on the front foot as they tried to search for an equaliser and went close a couple of times, with Vu Minh Tuan the chief instigator.
In the 52nd minute, the forward reached a cross at the far corner but he failed to hit the target. He then had another chance a few minutes later but Izwan comfortably saved his low shot. Vu then tried his luck from a free kick, but the ball went just wide of the post.
In the 66th minute, substitute Tran Phi Son went close with an effort from the edge of the penalty box, but Izwan again palmed the ball to safety.
Vietnam’s best chance, however, came in the 86th minute when Hoang Danh Ngoc got a free header inside the six yard box, but he headed the ball well wide.
It was backs against the wall for the Young Lions for the majority of the second half as they cleared cross after cross and blocked the countless shots that came their way.
Somehow, they survived and even had a chance to nick a second sucker punch right at the death when Hariss Harun was set free by Sahil, but his shot was saved. The ball trickled towards goal, but the goalkeeper managed to clear it just in time.
In the end, it didn’t matter as the Young Lions reached the finish line and recorded their first win of the SEA Games, much to the dismay of the Vietnamese.