Asian Cup: Vietnam win on penalties, China come back, Iran cruise into quarters
Vietnam's young guns beat Jordan 4-2 on penalties to reach the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup after the match finished 1-1 following extra time at the Al Maktoum Stadium.
Jordan's Baha Seif hit the bar and Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Van Lam saved Ahmad Saleh's effort in the shootout to leave substitute Bui Tien Dung to convert his spot kick and send his side through to a meeting with Japan or Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
The match had finished deadlocked after 120 minutes with Jordan's Baha Abdelrahman opening the scoring from an indirect free kick in the first half and Nguyen Cong Phuong equalising with a volley six minutes after the break.
Southeast Asian champions Vietnam poured forward in search of a winner but, for all their possession, neat interplay and stylish touches, they could not quite carve out a goal.
Jordan had beaten reigning champions Australia and Syria to win their group, while Park Hang-seo's youthful Vietnam team had squeaked through to the last 16 by virtue of having a superior disciplinary record to Lebanon.
While there was little to separate the teams over an entertaining contest, Jordan's muscular game ensured they had the best of the first half and they went in front in the 39th minute.
Vietnam had some grounds for grievance, first in that an indirect free kick was awarded inside the box for a high boot and secondly over whether Yousef Al-Rawashdeh actually moved the ball to tee up Abdelrahman.
There could be no complaints about the midfielder's strike, though, as he celebrated his 120th cap by crashing the ball into the roof of the net from the left-hand edge of the area.
Going behind galvanised Vietnam and they peppered Amer Shafi's goal before the break, the Jordan goalkeeper doing particularly well to tip Do Hung Dung's drive over the bar.
The Jordan goal was finally breached for the first time at the tournament in the 51st minute when Nguyen Trong Hoang sent an inviting cross into the area and Phuong got between the central defenders to flick the ball into the net.
Later, Marcello Lippi masterminded a second-half comeback to ensure China also advanced to the last eight with a 2-1 win over Thailand.
Lippi's introduction of veteran Guangzhou R&F striker Xiao Zhi allowed the Chinese to turn their domination into goals as Xiao and Gao Lin netted to cancel out Supachai Chaided's first-half opener.
"We didn't play very well in the first half because we made mistakes, but I'm very happy with the reaction of my players in the second half," said Lippi. "We were able to create many chances to score and we could have scored more."
China, who now play either Iran or Oman, were pushed all the way by their spirited opponents.
The Thais fired a warning in the 27th minute when Teerasil Dangda's deft header gave Supachai just enough space to fire off an attempt at goal only for the ball to go wide off Yan Junling's left upright.
There was no let-off four minutes later as poor defending allowed the Thais to take the lead. Theerathon Bunmathan's corner was only cleared as far as Thitiphan Puangchan and his miss-hit shot ended at the feet of Supachai who turned and slotted home.
China offered little in the first 45 minutes and Supachai put them on the back foot again five minutes after the opener, only to drag his long-distance shot wide.
The second half, though, saw China emerge in more determined fashion, with Wu Lei and Yu Dabao going close before Xiao's introduction for Yu in the 64th minute swung the game.
Xiao levelled just three minutes later when he scored on the rebound after Siwarak Tedsungnoen had saved his downward header and, after a further four minutes, China were in front.
Gao Lin had his heels clipped in the area by Tanaboon Kesarat as he ventured toward goal and the Guangzhou Evergrande forward picked himself up off the turf to fire the spot-kick into the top corner.
In the day's late game, three-times champions Iran came through an early scare before marching confidently into the Aquarterfinals for the 13th time in 14 attempts with a 2-0 victory over a spirited Oman team on Sunday.
Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand saved an Oman penalty in the opening minute but a goal from winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh and a successful spot-kick from captain Ashkan Dejagah put Carlos Queiroz's side firmly in control at half-time.
They were unable to add any more goals in the second half but there was never any real doubt they would return to the same stadium on Thursday to meet China, 2-1.
Oman, in the knockout stages of the Asian Cup for the first time and roared on by a large part of the 32,000 crowd, never flagged in their efforts and will forever ponder what might have been had Ahmed Mubarak converted the early penalty.
Striker Muhsen Al-Ghassani, Oman's best player, was hauled down by centre-back Majid Hosseini but Beiranvand dived low to his right to deny the Oman skipper, as he had Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo at last year's World Cup.
The quality of Iran's forward line was always going to cause Oman problems and Sardar Azmoun had the first of many shots at goal as early as the fourth minute.
Jahanbakhsh was soon causing the Oman defence problems down the right flank but it was from a more central position that he opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, pouncing on a defensive error and poking the ball into the net.
Dejagah doubled the lead five minutes before the break after Mehdi Taremi had been bundled over in the box but Al-Ghassani quickly gave a reminder that Oman were not done with a powerful shot that Beiranvand tipped over the bar.
Oman coach Pim Verbeek switched to a 4-4-2 formation at the break to chase the game but that opened up more space at the back and only the profligacy of the Iran forwards kept the lead at two goals.
Taremi and Azmoun vied for the title of worst offender but the Iran defence ensured Team Melli remained firmly on track to end the 43-year drought since their last continental title in 1976.