Vietnam have finished top of AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 Group A after cruising to a 3-0 win over Cambodia at the Hang Day Stadium on Saturday evening.
Despite entering the final round of group games in second place, Vietnam were still in a strong position given the other two contenders – Malaysia and Myanmar – were facing off against one another.
Against a Cambodia side that were already eliminated, Vietnam coach Park Hang-seo opted to give a few of his fringe players a chance to impress at the expense of established stars Nguyen Van Quyet, Luong Xuan Truong, Nguyen Anh Duc and Nguyen Cong Phuong.
As expected, it was the hosts who quickly gained a stranglehold on proceedings and Phan Van Duc forced Um Vichet into a decent save in the 15th minute with a sweetly-struck volley, before Nguyen Trong Hoang’s speculative 25-yard effort ten minutes later just cleared the bar after dipping at the last moment.
Then, in the 39th minute, the deadlock was finally broken when Nguyen Tien Linh – one of the young prospects introduced to the starting XI – climbed well to meet Trong Hoang’s excellent right-wing cross with a sumptuous header into the corner.
Just two minutes later, Vietnam doubled their advantage when Nguyen Phong Hong Duy produced a brilliant burst of pace to break free down the left and slide a pass into the six-yard box to leave Nguyen Quang Hai with a simple finish.
And, a minute after the hour mark, the Vietnamese sealed the win as Phan Van Duc smartly brought down a lofted pass by Quang Hai on the edge of the box, before lashing an unstoppable effort on the turn past a hapless Vichet.
The victory – coupled with Malaysia’s 3-0 triumph over Myanmar – was enough to see Vietnam finish top on ten points, one more than the second-placed Malaysians, and they will now meet the runners-up of Group B in the semi-finals.
VIETNAM: Dang Van Lam, Do Duy Manh, Tran Dinh Trong, Que Ngoc Hai (Bui Tien Dung 82′), Nguyen Trong Hoang (Nguyen Cong Phuong 65’), Pham Duc Huy, Do Hung Dung, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy, Nguyen Quang Hai, Phan Van Duc (Nguyen Van Quyet 70′), Nguyen Tien Linh.
CAMBODIA: Um Vichet, Chhin Chhoeun, Hong Pheng, Soeuy Visal, Cheng Meng, Kouch Sokumpheak (Chan Vathanaka 84′), Orn Chanpolin (Tith Dina 70′), Sos Suhana, Sin Kakada, Brak Thiva (Keo Sokpheng 66’), Reung Bunheing.