Vietnam close to 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification after Cambodia win
Vietnam are on the verge of qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after they went joint top of Group B with a dominant 5-0 victory over Cambodia in Hanoi.
The result gave Park Hang-Seo the perfect platform from which to seal qualification for the continental championship when he takes over as head coach this week. Three points at home to Afghanistan next month would book their ticket to United Arab Emirates in Jan. 2019.
South Korean Park was in attendance as Thanh Dinh's deflected effort put the home side in front after 13 minutes. Vietnam continued to dominate, but Cambodia were no pushovers and made a few chances and threatened on the break.
There was relief when the Golden Stars scored two quickfire goals just before the hour mark to put the game beyond their neighbours.
First, Van Queyet netted with a fine diving header from Thanh Dinh's deep cross. Then, with the Cambodian defence ball watching, Anh Duc stole in unmarked at the back post to stab home from a free kick.
An excellent solo effort from Cong Phuong made it 4-0 with 15 minutes remaining, and Hong Quan added the fifth in added time.
The Vietnamese had received the perfect pre-game boost, with group leaders Jordan dropping two points in a 3-3 draw away to bottom side Afghanistan.
There was late drama for Philippines in Group F as they scored in the 88th minute against Yemen to salvage a 1-1 draw in neutral Qatar to hold onto top spot.
A 63rd-minute Tawfik Ali goal looked to have given the Yemenis all three points, enabling them to leapfrog the Azkals in the group.
But with two minutes remaining, Paul Mulders found Mike Ott and the Munich-born midfielder kept his cool to slot home what could be a crucial equaliser.
Victory in Nepal next month would be enough to seal qualification for Thomas Dooley's side.
In Group F's other game, Tajikistan moved alongside Yemen onto the six-point mark as they eased to a 3-0 win at home to Nepal.
Myanmar struck at the death to keep their bid to qualify from Group A alive as they drew 2-2 at home to Kyrgyzstan.
The visitors took the lead through former Thai League player Anton Zemlianukhin's first-half penalty and Viktor Maier added a second just after the break.
Aung Thu quickly pulled one back for the hosts, and Ko Ko Kyaw's strike two minutes into added time earned the hosts a vital point. Myanmar remain joint second alongside Kyrgyzstan on four points but face tough trips to their rivals and India in the next two games.
The result means that group leaders India can seal qualification with a victory at home to Macau on Wednesday evening.
A stunning 5-0 thrashing by Lebanon of North Korea was slight consolation for Malaysia, as it prevented the Harimau Malaya becoming completely stranded at the bottom of Group B.
Hong Kong stunned 10-man Malaysia with a 2-0 home win, taking advantage of Safiq Rahim's red card after just 40 minutes.
It leaves Nelo Vingada's side bottom of the group on one point from three games, but the Koreans dismal night in Beirut ensures that Malaysia are still in with a slight chance of taking second spot. They sit four points behind second-placed Hong Kong with a game in hand.
In Group E, Chinese Taipei shocked group leaders Bahrain with two late goals sealing a 2-1 victory in Taipei. The visitors took a first-half lead through Ismail Abdul-Latif's penalty, but Englishman Gary White's side came out firing in the second half.
The hosts finally got their reward with a remarkable two goals in added time from Po-Liang Chen and Hao-Wei Chen. The result also made the chances of Singapore of progressing from the group remote as they sit four points adrift in bottom spot after a 2-1 defeat in Turkmenistan.
In Group D, Palestine hit double figures as they sealed qualification with a 10-0 win over hapless Bhutan.
And Oman progressed from Group D after winning 3-1 in Maldives.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK