Record-breaking Australia beat Vietnam in World Cup qualifying

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Rhyan Grant sealed the win for Australia with his first international goal

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Hanoi (AFP)

Australia beat Vietnam 1-0 in Hanoi on Tuesday, becoming the first AFC nation to win 10 World Cup qualifiers in a row.

The victory, courtesy of Rhyan Grant’s first-half winner, also left the Socceroos on two wins from two in Group B.

Played behind closed doors because of Covid-19 restrictions, the match at the My Dinh National Stadium was goalless for most of the first half, Graham Arnold’s Australia dominating the ball but coming up against a disciplined Vietnam defence.

Vietnam could have had a penalty in the 27th minute, but VAR ruled Australia defender Grant’s block – of a shot by Nguyen Phong Hong Duy – was not handball.

And it was a Grant header that broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute, the right-back scoring his first international goal off an Ajdin Hrustic assist.

From then on, the home team struggled to get a decent shot on goal.

Australia did have the ball in the net in the second half, but substitute Mitchell Duke’s strike was ruled out for offside.

The victory leaves the Socceroos on two wins from two in Group B Manan VATSYAYANA AFP

Vietnam’s defeat ends the side’s 17-game unbeaten run at home.

It also means they still have no points in their first appearance in the final round of Asia’s World Cup qualifiers, having lost 3-1 away to Saudi Arabia last week.

Australia are on two wins with no goals conceded, following last week’s 3-0 victory over China in Doha.

The Socceroos will play Oman next on 7 October, while Vietnam will face China.

There are two groups of six nations in the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

The top two teams from each group will qualify for the tournament next year while the third-placed teams can still hope to make the cut via an inter-continental playoff.

© 2021 AFP

Perfect Ten! Sluggish Socceroos edge Vietnam to keep epic streak alive in scrappy win

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It was the opposite of a classic, but the Socceroos overcame draining conditions in Hanoi to scrape past Vietnam 1-0 and claim a 10th-straight World Cup qualifying win.

The Socceroos had the bulk of possession but weren’t nearly so dominant as in their 3-0 win over China on Thursday, constantly struggling to break down a disciplined Vietnam defence – and were lucky to avoid conceding as the world No. 92 hosts had the better of the chances thanks to their dangerous counter-attacking.

After a couple of huge scares in the first half, including a VAR check for a possible Rhyan Grant hand-ball, the Socceroos finally broke the deadlock shortly before halftime as fullback Grant headed home his maiden international goal.

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In a stop-start affair, the sluggish and sloppy Socceroos failed to carve out many meaningful chances, with Grant’s 43rd minute goal the only shot on target from the Australians.

That was partially due to the absence of in-form winger Martin Boyle, who scored his eighth goal in 10 appearances for club and country this season against China, and was ruled out due to a hamstring complaint picked up in that victory.

But the lack of conviction in the side’s performance will give coach Graham Arnold plenty of headaches ahead of another pair of qualifiers next month.

Arnold bemoaned the humidity that was “through the roof”, but said: “I was very pleased with the effort and the performance obviously could have been better, (but) you have to look at the circumstances and in the conditions we played in. And at the end of the day, another clean sheet and, the effort, as I said, the effort was fantastic… It is a sign of a great team when you don’t play at your best and can still win.”

It was a tenth-straight victory for the Socceroos, the first time the side has achieved the marker in World Cup qualifying and just the second ten-game win streak in the 99 years of Socceroos history. The run includes eight clean sheets, of which Arnold said: “that’s fantastic.” No other Asian national has ever achieved such a streak in a World Cup qualifying campaign, with the Socceroos becoming just the fourth nation to ever win ten on the trot in a single qualifying campaign.

With two games down in this final stage of qualification, the Socceroos look forward to a home game against Oman next month, with Football Australia desperately hoping to hold the clash on Australian soil.

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The sweat was glistening on the faces of the Socceroos before the match even began, in the stifling 29-degree, 75 per cent humidity conditions in Hanoi’s My Dinh stadium.

Australia controlled the ball from the opening minutes, dictating a measured tempo against the hosts and setting up deep in the attacking third.

But it was Vietnam that had the best chance to open the scoring in the seventh minute, when a misplaced Jackson Irvine pass led to a rapid counter-attack that caught Australia’s defence off guard. Vietnam’s star attacker Nguyen Quang Hai was played into the box but miscued his shot well off target.

The Socceroos almost hit back in the 13th minute when Brad Smith blasted a cross into the box and it was bundled into the back of the net, but it was ruled out due to the ball having crossed the byline before Smith gathered it in.

Centre-back Trent Sainsbury had another good opportunity to score when his run was tracked poorly as Ajdin Hrustic curled in a deep free kick, but the defender made poor contact with the volley and sent the chance wide.

In the 28th minute, Vietnam threatened Australia’s box with a pair of driven shots from Nguyen Phong Hong Duy, one of which was blocked by Rhyan Grant and unwittingly hit his elbow as he turned away.

VAR ordered the referee to review the footage on the pitch-side monitor, with a penalty a very real possibility – but he confirmed his original decision and play continued, given Grant’s arm was tucked into his body.

Shortly afterwards, the Socceroos once again sprung the off-side trap from a free-kick with Sainsbury left open at the back post. With as many as five Socceroos waiting in the box for a pass, Sainsbury fluffed his lines and found the only defender, wasting a golden chance to open the scoring.

Australia had 75 per cent of possession in the opening half an hour but could only manage two shots in that time, struggling to break down a packed five-man Vietnam defensive line.

Then Hrustic – as he did with two beautiful free kicks earlier in the half – curled in a superb ball that caught out Vietnam’s defensive line, and Grant made no mistake with a well-struck header in the 43rd minute.

It was the marauding Sydney fullback’s maiden international goal in his 16th appearance, and came with Australia’s only shot on target in the match.

Rhyan Grant broke the deadlock for the Socceroos with a brilliant header. Source: Channel 10

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Vietnam introduced striker Nguyen Van Toan to replace Nguyen Tuan Anh at the half-time interval, and it almost paid off as Van Toan impressed throughout the second half.

The Socceroos were quickly put on notice by another counter attack five minutes into the second stanza, and were lucky to escape without conceding as Harry Souttar poked it out for a corner.

In the 56th minute, Aaron Mooy replaced youngster Riley McGree, and Aziz Behich replaced Brad Smith as left fullback. That saw Hrustic pushed forward into the right winger position with Mooy taking up duties alongside Jackson Irvine in the centre of the park.

Striker Mitch Duke was also brought on, as was central defensive midfielder Jimmy Jeggo.

Despite Mooy’s settling influence on the ball, the Socceroos struggled to see out the game securely, with Vietnam again creating solid opportunities to hit back in the second stanza.

Duke was denied a late goal due to offside after Australia picked up the ball high in the opposition third, while a weary Awer Mabil was played through on goal by a lovely Tom Rogic pass in the dying minutes but failed to make it count.

MATCH CENTRE: Full team and player statistics


Mat Ryan (C, GK);

Brad Smith; Harry Souttar; Trent Sainsbury; Rhyan Grant

Ajdin Hrustic; Jackson Irvine; Tom Rogic

Awer Mabil; Adam Taggart; Riley McGree;

How to watch: Socceroos v Vietnam

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After starting round three of Asian Qualifying with a bang in Doha, the Socceroos will head East to Hanoi where their Quest for Qatar continues.

Following Thursday night’s 3-0 win over China, Graham Arnold’s side will be shooting for back-to-back wins to kick off the new phase of qualifying, when they take on Vietnam at 10pm (AEST) on Tuesday.

Yet again the match will be broadcast live and free on via Network Ten and Ten Play, with some states able to view the match on Channel 10, and others through 10 Bold.

ULTIMATE GUIDE: Socceroos v Vietnam

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar (Final Round)

Vietnam v Australia

Date: Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Venue: My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi, Vietnam

Kick-off: 7pm local (10pm AEST)

Broadcast: Live and free on 10 (NSW, VIC, QLD, ACT, TAS), and 10 Bold (SA, NT, WA) – pre-game coverage from 9.30pm AEST

For residents of other regional areas, be sure to check your local guides. International audiences can find out how to watch here.

MATCH PREVIEW: Socceroos v Vietnam

Ahead of Tuesday’s match, re-live the highlights from Thursday’s win: