Vietnam scored a late winner for a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Australia while South Korea tied Syria scoreless in Group D of the AFC U23 Championship 2018 here on Sunday.
In the 72nd minute, Nguyen Quang Hai hit a long-range strike from the corner area, which was deflected into the net. Australia tried hard for an equalizer but failed in their efforts, including a header from substitute Blackwood hitting the crossbar.
Vietnam tied Australia in the group standings with three points, and could make it to the last eighth should it win over Syria in its last group match on Wednesday, when Australia faces a daunting task against South Korea.
Park Hang-seo, the Vietnam head coach, said: “I want to dedicate this victory to the Vietnamese people. I promised we would do something special but this is just a start. We have one match left and from tomorrow we will have to concentrate on that game.
“We always believed we can win the game. We don’t know in advance what the result will be, but we prepared to win.”
Australian head coach Ante Milicic said: “I’d like to congratulate Vietnam on a fantastic victory. For them to win a game at a tournament like this is good for their confidence.
“We struggled at times to create some clear-cut chances. We were vulnerable on the break and we could have dealt better with those situations.”
After the draw, Syria picked up its first point from the tournament while South Korea kept its slim lead with four points in the group.
The top two from each group advance to the quarterfinals from the 16-team continental tournament, being played in four cities of Jiangsu province.