Despite the 2-0 victory, Philippe Troussier’s team did not perform that well. Though the possession and tiki-taka plays were dazzling to see, the attack was still wasteful and the defence at times woeful, with multiple errors toward the end of the second half.
|19-year-old Nguyễn Đình Bắc celebrates his first goal for Việt Nam on his national team debut. VNA/|
Photo Hoàng Linh
MANILA Almost four years to the day they won their SEA Games medal in 2019, the players of the Việt Nam national football team returned to the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, and brought home three points in their first match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Nguyễn Văn Toàn opened up the scoring for the Golden Star Warriors early in the first half, before Nguyễn Đình Bắc capped off the victory in the final seconds of the match with a wonder goal.
Despite the 2-0 win, Philippe Troussier’s team did not perform that well. Though the possession and tiki-taka plays were dazzling to see, the attack was still wasteful and the defence woeful at times, with multiple errors toward the end of the second half.
Three under-23 players were selected for the starting line-up, with Phan Tuấn Tài and Võ Minh Trọng as wingbacks, while 20-year-old Nguyễn Thái Sơn partnered with captain Nguyễn Tuấn Anh in midfield.
Despite the lack of experience, Tài and Trọng had some great plays that opened up chances for Văn Toàn and Phạm Tuấn Hải, who disappointingly squandered.
However, Vietnamese fans at Rizal Memorial did not have to wait long for the opening goal. In the 12th minute, Văn Toàn stole the ball from the right wing and cut inside the box.
Both Toàn and Nguyễn Tiến Linh went for the ball in the penalty area, and although Linh’s shot was not accurate, the rebound somehow went to Văn Toàn, who put the ball in the far corner with his left-footed shot.
This was Toàn’s first goal in 2023, after a goal drought of 320 days with the national team.
Having gone behind, a furious Philippines pushed further in the second half.
Tuấn Hải could have been Philippines’ harbinger of doom, had he not wasted three glorious chances at the start of the period.
Hải’s misses, as well as his teammates’ lacklustre defence almost cost Việt Nam the victory. In the 77th minute, Santiago Rublico had a chance one-on-one against Đặng Văn Lâm after a great long ball. However, Rublico’s shot was inches wide.
Nine minutes later, after a dangerous free kick, Patrick Reichelt had a rebounded shot from inside the box, but the ball was still not in the back of the net for Michael Weiss’s side.
The Azkals’ gung-ho mentality bit them on the backside in the final minutes, as their stamina dwindled down. In the sixth minute of added time, Nguyễn Thanh Bình’s lofted pass put Đình Bắc through in a two-on-three situation. The 19-year-old midfielder dribbled and fired a shot from around 18 metre, which went into former Fulham keeper Neil Etheridge’s net, setting the final score at 2-0 for Việt Nam.
“I am grateful of the victory today, and happy of the resolve and discipline of the team,” said head coach Philippe Troussier, “But I must admit this is not an easy match for Việt Nam.”
“We should have ended the match earlier with a second goal, but we couldn’t, and that later create pressure in defence,” the Frenchman added.
Goalscorer Nguyễn Văn Toàn shared the same sentiments as his head coach. “This is the opening match, and an artificial turf makes it more difficult,” Toàn said.
“I am proud of scoring and contributing to the victory today,” added the former Seoul E-land striker.
Toàn suffered an injury late in the second half and had to be stretchered off. Addressing his injury, the striker said: “The doctors will take a look when I get back to the hotel, and had another assessment tomorrow. I hope everything will be fine.”
With this result, Việt Nam currently sit in second place of Group F, behind Iraq who convincingly beat Indonesia 5-1.
Philippe Troussier’s men will have four days to rest and prepare for Iraq in their first match at home in Mỹ Đình National Stadium on November 21.