Wed, Sep 09, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Taiwan trumped by Vietnam late show in qualifier

By Dominic Wallace  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan’s Chen Hao-wei, top center, is tackled by Vietnam’s Dinh Tien Thanh, bottom, in their FIFA 2018 World Cup Asian Group F qualifier at the Taipei Municipal Stadium yesterday.

Photo: Lin Cheng-Kung Taipei Times

A late stoppage-time goal gave Vietnam a 2-1 win over a spirited Taiwan in Taipei last night in their FIFA 2018 World Cup Asian qualifier.

Having lost their opening two qualifiers to Thailand and Iraq, conceding seven goals and netting only once in the process, Taiwan hosted a Vietnam side who were also without a win in Group F, although the visitors had played only one game due to the cancelation of their fixture against Indonesia, who were disqualified following a FIFA suspension.

With the motivation of knowing that the eight group winners and the four best group runners-up advance into the third round of qualification, as well as qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals, and in front of a packed Taipei Municipal Stadium of about 20,000 spectators, including a substantial Vietnamese contingent, Taiwan took the game to their opponents from the kick-off, knowing that anything less than a win would leave them with a massive mountain to climb in their final three group fixtures.

The hosts started brightly and had the best chance of the first half in the fifth minute when Lo Chih-en whipped a free-kick from outside the box toward the bottom-left corner, only to be acrobatically kept out by Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh.

The visitors’ best chance of the first period fell to midfielder Vu Minh Tuan, who found himself unmarked at the back post in the 13th minute, but he could only scuff his shot well wide, much to the relief of the home defense.

Despite the frantic pace of the match, an end product in the final third of the pitch was lacking for both teams, who went into halftime locked in a goalless stalemate.

Vietnam came out after the break like a team possessed, with Taiwan unable to maintain possession. Going with the run of play, the deadlock was broken in the 54th minute when a Vietnam corner, having been cleared off the line once, gave defender Dinh Tien Thanh a close-range tap-in, sending the away support into raptures.

The goal seemed to awaken the home side from their slumber and, led by a gutsy performance by Chen Tsan-yuan, Taiwan dug deep, throwing everything they had at the opposition. In committing so many men forward, they always looked in danger of conceding on the counterattack.

With few clearcut chances coming Taiwan’s way and with the away support’s relentless chanting and inventive use of cellphone lighting, which seemed to silence the home crowd, Taiwan appeared to be petering out.

Vietnam head coach Toshiya Miura acknowledged his side’s supporters, saying: “The Vietnamese supporters gave us great support to generate a fantastic atmosphere at the stadium and it bolstered our team spirit.”

However, in the 83rd minute, via a pinpoint cross from Chen, Wu Chun-ching rose above the defense to flick a header into the far corner, drawing Taiwan level and leaving the crowd in a state of hysterics. It might have been a second-round qualifier, but one would be forgiven for thinking Taiwan had just won the World Cup final.

There was to be one final cruel twist in the tale, deep in stoppage-time, when a tired home defense failed to clear the ball and following a scuffed attempt on target, an unlucky Chen Yi-wei mishit his clearance and could not prevent the ball ending in his own net, to put the visitors 2-1 in front and, ultimately, give them the victory.

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