Nguyen Trong Hoang was Vietnam’s hero as his goal secured a narrow 1-0 win over Malaysia in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Wednesday.
Khairul Fahmi was not tested until the 18th minute, came rushing out of his goal to thwart a long pass from the opponents, which was to prove crucial.
Vietnam could have opened their lead in the 40th minute when a decent pass from Nguyen Van Quyet find Nguyen Trong Hoang one-on-one with Ronny Harun but the Malaysian defender denied the chance with a crucial tackle in imposing fashion.
The first-half ended in a stalemate after Vietnam missed another chance shortly before half-time after Luong Xuan Truong awkwardly divert the ball over the bar from a couple of yards.
Malaysia pushed for an equaliser in the early second-half. A fine ball from Amri Yahyah’s corner met Syazwan Zainon who is outside the box and hits a stunning volley, but the ball went straight to Tran Nguyen Manh.
On the other side, Vietnam looked quicker and more fluid after the break. But Ong Kim Swee’s men did well to contain the pressures.
After 80 minutes of solid Malaysian defending, Nguyen Trong Hoang broke the deadlock with a composure finish after beating two Malaysian defenders in the box.
In the dying minutes, Rizal Ghazali from the right side sent a fine cross into Zaquan Adha who powers in a header but Tran Nguyen Manh crucially blocked the header.
The result sees Vietnam are on the brink to qualify into semi-final after collecting six points from two games, while Malaysia will need a win over Myanmar on Saturday in order to maintain their knock-out stage hopes.