Sunday, July 22, 2007

Iraq through to semi-finals as Vietnam's fairy-tale runs out

Vietnam fans gather outside Rajamangala Stadium
Vietnam’s fairy-tale run at the Asian Cup has come to an end, after they were beaten by Iraq in their quarter-final encounter at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.

Thousands of colourfully-attired Vietnam fans turned out in support of their team, but they made little difference as Iraq ran out comfortable 2-0 winners on the back of a superb individual performance from captain Younes Mohammed.

He opened the scoring from Iraq’s first attack of the game, rising highest to flick home playmaker Nashat Ali’s free-kick barely ninety seconds into the match.

Kick off between Iraq and Vietnam

Some desperate defending from Nhu Thanh Vu twice prevented Iraq from going further ahead, with the Vietnamese clinging on grimly in the hope of avoiding a rout.

On the stroke of half-time Iraq were forced into a desperate goal-line clearance of their own, as Nguyen Vu Phong saw his strike cleared off the goal line by substitute Ahmad Abid Ali.

Normal service was resumed in the second half with Iraq continuing their procession towards Hong Son Duong’s goal.

The west Asian team extended their lead just after the hour mark when Younes Mohammed curled a superb free-kick over the wall and into the top right hand corner of Duong’s goal.

Vietnam fans lend their support

Despite their determined efforts Vietnam were unable to find the back of the net during the closing stages of this match, to the disappointment of the few thousand travelling fans that made up the majority of another sparse crowd in Bangkok.

While admitting that he was pleased to lead Iraq to the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time since 1976, coach Jorvan Viera was unimpressed with his team, suggesting that they would have to improve if they were to have any hope of lifting the trophy.

Iraq will now face Korea Republic in the last four, after the Koreans disposed of Iraq's regional rival Iran on penalties in their quarter-final.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman &

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