Vietnam suffers heartbreak with 2-1 loss to Uzbekistan in U23 Asian Cup final

By Staff reporters   January 27, 2018 | 02:10 pm GMT+7

Uzbekistan scored the winning goal in the last minute of extra time.

VIETNAM 1-2 UZBEKISTAN

UZB - Header by defender Rustamjon Ashurmatov, 8'

 VIE - Free kick by Nguyen Quang Hai, 41'

UZB - Andrey Sidorov, 120', following a corner

Vietnam Team Stats Uzbekistan
8 Shots 20
3 Shots on target 9
31% Possession 69%
2 Corners 12
12 Fouls 26
2 Yellow cards 3
0 Red cards 0

Vietnam finished as runner-up in the AFC U23 final against Uzbekistan after the latter scored in the last minute of extra time, brining the score to 1-2.

In addition to silver medals, the Vietnamese team also received the Fair Play Award for its performance throughout the competition, which took place in China.

It was the first time a Vietnamese national team has made it to the final of a continental championship, attracting attention from global football fans.

In snowy conditions at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center, it was Uzbek defender Rustamjon Ashurmatov who scored first with a header in the 8th minute.

More than half an hour later, Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai equalized with a free kick. It was his fifth goal at the championship, making him one of the top scorers.

The match remained level in the second half, forcing the teams into extra time. In the 120th minute, Uzbekistan's striker Andrey Sidorov scored their second goal, crowning his team champions of the 2018 U23 Asian Cup. Sidorov replaced Javokhir Sidikov in the 118th minute of the match.

"We were so close," Quang Hai said sadly after the match. "We could have played better but we failed."

"We have no words to thank the fans. They've been beyond marvelous. We got this far thanks to the fans who have always stood by our side," Quang Hai added.

One of the championships best goal scorers Nguyen Quang Hai cant hold his tears as thanks fans after the match. Photo by VnExpress Anh Khoa

One of the championship's top goal scorers Nguyen Quang Hai can't hold back his tears as he thanks fans after the match. Photo by VnExpress Anh Khoa

After thanking Vietnamese fans, coach Park Hang-seo finds some alone time on the bench. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa

After thanking the Vietnamese fans, coach Park Hang-seo finds some alone time on the bench. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Khoa

After losing, Vietnam's Korean coach Park Hang-seo was seen surrounded by his players shouting: "Why do we have to keep our heads down?" while beating his chest. "We don't have to keep our heads down because we've tried our best."

Coach Park and the players then proceeded to thank their supporters at the stadium. 

"They have never played in such weather condition. It was our biggest challenge, said the coach. "We had to give up on our signature style and found it difficult to adapt to weather conditions." It was snowing throughout the match and temperatures were freezing.

"In over 40 years of coaching, this is the tournament I am most proud of," said Park, who was assistant to Dutch coach Guus Hiddink during the 2002 World Cup where South Korea finished fourth, the country's biggest achievement. 

"I'd like to thank my players; it's them who created these memorable moments for me."

Nguyen Quang Hai, in No.19 T-shirt, reacts after scoring one goal for Vietnam from a free kick. Photo by VnExpress

Nguyen Quang Hai reacts after scoring for Vietnam with a free kick. Photo by VnExpress

Football fans in Hanoi celebrating as midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai scored at minute 41. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Football fans in Hanoi celebrating after midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai scored in the 41st minute. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

The mother of midfielder Bui Tien Dung fainted at home in Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam as U-23 Vietnam scored the first goal. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

The mother of midfielder Bui Tien Dung fainted at home in Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam after Vietnam equalized. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

Vietnamese fans at the stadium in Chuangzhou, China cheer to Vietnams first goal. Photo by VnExpress

Vietnamese fans at the stadium in Chuangzhou celebrate Vietnam's first goal. Photo by VnExpress

Fans react to the game as they watch live from Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Fans react to the game as they watch live from Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

The game started at 3 p.m. in heavy snow despite earlier news that the weather could threaten to delay the match. The Vietnamese team was in their official color red.

Vietnamese fans carry the banner saying U23 Vietnam wins to the stadium in Chuangzhou, amid heavy snow. Photo by VnExpress

Vietnamese fans carry a banner saying "U23 Vietnam wins" at the stadium in Chuangzhou under heavy snow. Photo by VnExpress

Vietnam, considered the underdog at the start of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship, has won numerous plaudits by beating top competitors to earn a place in the final. The team defeated Australia 1-0 in the group stage. The players also beat Iraq in the quarterfinals and Qatar in the semifinals, both on penalty shootouts.

The final on Saturday was not the first time the two teams had met.

Just last month, Vietnam’s U23 team lost 1-2 to Uzbekistan U23 at the M150-Cup in Thailand. Uzbekistan then went on to defeat Japan in the final, while Vietnam came third after beating Thailand.

At this year's AFC U23 cup, Uzbekistan has fared better in terms of goals stats than the more defensively minded Vietnam.

Many fans saw Uzbekistan as a tough player with better physical strength and possibly skills as well. But many believed in the fighting spirit of Park’s forces and the unexpected results they have brought prior to the final.

In Hanoi and Saigon, fans had brought red flags and T-shirts to the streets, after the official color of the Vietnamese team.

Vietnamese football fan gather in front of the final match on Nguyen Hue walking street in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Vietnamese football fans gather ahead of the final match on Nguyen Hue walking street in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Football fans outside My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du

Football fans outside My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du

Houses of captain Luong Xuan Truong and goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung in northern rural Vietnam were packed with fans while the streets saw the biggest crowds ever.

Football fans gather the house of goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa. Photo by VnExpress

Football fans gather the house of goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa. Photo by VnExpress

Entering the final game of an Asian championship is the best achievement in the football history of Vietnam as well as the Southeast Asia.

 
 
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