In front of a packed and noisy My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam proved more clinical on the night as the host scored from the only two shots that they aimed at Malaysia's goal. Despite having a lion share of the ball possession, Malaysia struggled to break down a stubborn Vietnam side.
The home sat deep throughout the match and comfortably fended off Malaysia while employing the more robust tactic. There wasn't a huge difference between the two teams but where the visitors failed tonight, the home team succeeded.
Tan Cheng Hoe made four changes from the team that beat Laos 3-1 in the previous game with Mohamadou Sumareh, Shahrel Fikri, Akhyar Rashid and Syamer Kutty Abba all starting the match. Meanwhile Park Hang-seo also left his captain Nguyen Van Quyet on the bench.
Unlike the opening two matches, Malaysia actually started this match the better and settled down very quickly into the match, dominating the ball possession. Vietnam adopted a catious approach and opted for a back five that is skewed towards the left hand side.
But it was the home side who took the lead on the break when Syahmi Safari's inexperience at right back was telling when he allowed Doan Van Hau to sneak in behind him in the 11th minute. The left back's squared ball was missed by Nguyen Anh Duc but his striking compatriot Nguyen Cong Phuong was on hand to flick home the opening goal of the night.
Despite conceding the early goal, Malaysian heads did not drop and continued to hogged the ball but were unable to break through a resolute Vietnam defence lead by Que Ngoc Hai at centre back.
After the break, Cheng Hoe introduced Safawi Rasid for Sumareh and from his first touch, almost scored the equaliser for Malaysia. His free kick effort in the 58th minute forced Dang Van Lam into mkaing his first big save of the match, to keep his team in the lead.
But disaster would struck for Malaysia just two minutes later when the backline was caught off guard as Phan Van Duc sent Anh Duc through on goal and the latter's clinical finish gave Vietnam a 2-0 lead in the match.
Trying to push for a way back into the match, Cheng Hoe took out the more defensive Syamer for the more attacking Syafiq Ahmad, as well as giving Hazwan Bakri the central attacking berth, replacing Shahrel.
The 41,922 crowd in Hanoi saw their beloved team easily held Malaysia at bay and assume pole position in the group with two more rounds of fixtures remaining. Malaysia's fate are still in their hands as a win over Myanmar next week would still seal a place in the knockout stage for the Harimau Malaya.
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On Wednesday, we asked Malaysia's Mohamadou Sumareh; will he recover in time to play in their Group A #affsuzukicup2018 match against Vietnam? Pada hari Rabu, kami bertanya kepada penyerang Malaysia Mohamadou Sumareh; adakah dia sempat pulih untuk bermain dalam perlawanan Kumpulan A Piala AFF menentang Vietnam?