Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Vietnam go through despite 4-1 defeat

AFP , HANOIAP, HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

Japan's Naohiro Takahara, center, goes down after a challenge during the match against Vietnam in Hanoi yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

Defending champions Japan advanced to the Asian Cup quarter-finals yesterday, overwhelming Vietnam 4-1 although the co-hosts still go through to the knockout rounds for the first time in 47 years.

JEF United forward Seiichiro Maki headed home twice, Shunsuke Nakamura found the net and Yasuhito Endo added another to give Japan their second straight win after a 1-1 opening draw with Asian Games gold medalists Qatar.

Vietnam, playing in their first Asian Cup finals for 47 years, have stunned everyone with their performances so far and with the United Arab Emirates beating Qatar in the other group B match, they made the last eight.

Japan struggled to penetrate a determined Vietnam defense early in the match before a sell-out crowd of 40,000 at the My Dinh National Stadium.

Vietnam took the lead when Nguyen Vu Phong's corner kick from the left bounced off teammate Phan Van Tai Em and then Japanese midfielder Kenta Suzuki after a goalmouth scramble in the seventh minute.

But Japan hit back five minutes later when Maki headed home a left cross from Nakamura.

A 25m drive from Phong in the 19th minute went wide after a diving save by Japanese goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.

On the half hour mark, Nakamura's midfield partner Endo slammed in a free kick from the left after Frankfurt striker Yasuhiro Takahara was brought down just outside the penalty area to make it 2-1.

Japan were beginning to find their rhythm and Nakamura struck a third in the 52nd minute after a series of short midfield passes from Yuichi Komano and Endo.

They wrapped it up seven minutes later when Endo's free kick from the left found Maki's head.

It allowed coach Ivica Osim to substitute Nakamura, Endo and Maki around the hour's mark, with a quarter-final to look forward to on Saturday in Hanoi.

As the runner-up in the group, Vietnam will travel to Bangkok to play their quarter-final against the winner of group A.

In the other group B match, which was played simultaneously in Ho Chi Minh City, a goal in injury time by substitute Faisal Khalil helped UAE beat Qatar 2-1 to hand Vietnam their quarter-final place.

Qatar, needing to win to advance, scored first via Uruguay-born Sebastian Quintana, who was brought down by Rashid Abdul Rahman in the penalty area three minutes before half-time. He made no mistake with the resulting penalty.

Saeed Al Kaas equalized for UAE in the 59th minute when he rose above Qatar's defense and headed home from Ahmed Mubarak's cross.

Khalil headed the winner from close range when the Qatari goalkeeper failed to stop a freekick.

UAE coach Bruno Metsu, without the services of first-choice goalkeeper Majed Nasser and defenders Basheer Saeed and Haidar Alo Ali through suspension, fielded eight new faces in the starting lineup.

It was like a home game for Metsu's lineup, with thousands of Vietnamese fans cheering every time the UAE were in possession at the 20,000-seat Army stadium.

Qatar had the best of the initial chances.

Majdi Siddig had the first chance for Qatar in the third minute, but his shot was pushed over the bar by UAE goal keeper Waleed Salem.

Quintana found the net in the 13th minute but was called back for off-side, and Hussain Yaser had a good chance in the 29th minute but drove a shot over the bar.

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