Vietnam lose pride match to China with poor first half

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Vietnam lost its fight for national pride 1-2 against China in the final round of the Asian Cup 2011 qualifier in Hanoi Sunday, with the home team’s coach lamenting a miserable first half.

Two quick blitzes before the first whistle were all China needed to seal the victory. Though the lead was cut in half via penalty kick before the time was up, coach Henrique Calisto said he was angry that the Vietnamese side had let China take better control of the match.

The defenders made bad passes even when they were in good positions, Calisto said. He concluded they played so bad in the first half that even Jose Mourinho (currently coach of Italian Series A leaders Inter Milan) would have been unable to improve the situation.

Though Vietnam had already been eliminated from the tournament, Portuguese tactician Calisto and his team still began the game in high spirits.

Staunch defenders protected the net against relentless attacks from China, with goalkeeper Quang Huy, who replaced Duong Hong Son, playing particularly excellent.

But both China’s offense and defense stood firm. China’s counterattacks soon began to punch easy holes into Vietnamese territory.

On a powerful fast break, an unmarked Rong Hao made a neat cross from the left flank to Yang Xu who had no difficulty scoring the opener 10 minutes before the break.

Soon after that, another fast Chinese attack saw Zhang Lingpeng fire an unstoppable shot past dazed goalkeeper Quang Huy to double the score for China just before the halftime whistle.

Shortly after the break, Vietnam hit rock bottom when striker Viet Thang received a red card for elbowing a Chinese player.

But despite having only 10 men and conceding two goals, the team regained its spirit.

Their efforts were rewarded when midfielder Thanh Luong was tackled in the penalty area by defender Zhao Peng and top striker Cong Vinh powered a rocket past goalkeeper Yang Zhi on his second attempt. Zhi had saved his first attempt, but Vinh was allowed another when the referee ruled a Chinese player had been standing in the penalty box.

Vietnam continued its attack after the goal, but Zhi was simply excellent.

Hopes were high for a millisecond when Trong Hoang’s 89th minute shot looked like it was about to equalize for Vietnam, but Zhi appeared out of nowhere to block the effort.

Reported by Quang Huy

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