AFC U-16: Vietnam completes stunning comeback to eliminate Australia

With Japan having secured first place in the group, the runner-up spot and a place in the quarterfinals is set to go to a final Matchday climax as it will be a winner-takes-all tie between Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan.

Australia (yellow) and Vietnam in action in the AFC U-16 Championships in India.   -  Special Arrangement

Nguyen Duy Khiem's winner five minutes from time completed an extraordinary comeback by Vietnam as it eliminated 2014 semi-finalist Australia from the AFC U-16 Championship 2016 after coming back from two goals down to win 3-2 on Monday in Group B.

Australia captain John Roberts put the Joeys in front in the 18th minute, before he added a second 10 minutes later to give his side a 2-0 lead at the break.

Vietnam responded strongly in the second half, however, and Nguyen Huu Thang clawed one back in the 51st minute before the same player netted the equaliser nine minutes later. And there was yet more drama to come as Duy Khiem scored on 85 minutes to secure all three points and break Australian hearts.

With Japan having secured first place in the group with an 8-0 win over Kyrgyzstan earlier in the day, the runner-up spot and a place in the quarterfinals is set to go to a final Matchday climax as it will be a winner-takes-all tie between Vietnam and the Central Asians.

Australia began proceedings on the front foot with the Southeast Asian team looking to use its pacey forwards to hit Tony Vidmar's side on the counter.

Powerfully-built striker Roberts looked the obvious target up front for Australia and he put Mark Moric through on goal just before the quarter-hour mark but he was denied by a last ditch tackle and, shortly after, the same player drilled a low shot wide of Huynh Huu Tuan's left-hand post.

Turning from provider to scorer, it was Roberts who gave the Aussies the lead on 18 minutes as he towered above the Vietnamese defenders to power home a header from Louis D'Arrigo's inswinging corner from the left. And the skipper then extended the lead two minutes shy of the half-hour as Duy Khiem's pass back to his 'keeper was far too short and Roberts was onto the ball in a flash before rounding the stranded Huu Tuan and rolling the ball into the net.

Vietnam halved the deficit just six minutes into the second half, though, as Nguyen Huynh Sang's deep cross to the back post was met on the volley by Huu Thang and the ball bounced into the turf and past Nicholas Suman in the Australia goal.

Dinh The Nam's team was lifted by the goal and on the hour it had drawn level.

Huynh Sang cut the ball back for Tran Van Dat and although Suman blocked the shot, Huu Thang was in the right place to force the rebound home.

With both sides seeking the win, the tie was poised on a knife edge as the match drew to a close and it was Duy Khiem who completed the stunning turnaround as he ran onto Nguyen Khac Khiem pass across the box and finished with aplomb to spark wild celebrations.

Vietnam coach Dinh The Nam said, "In football, winning matches make everyone happy so, of course, we are very happy with the result of this game especially our second half performance. We had played Australia several times before. We know them, we analysed them and they played exactly how we expected."

"In the first half we didn't start the game well, our players were nervous and were not well focused. In the second half we changed things. We told the players we had no other chance, we have no other way, everyone must fight together. As long as we fight together I am happy, even if we lost, but obviously winning like this is perfect."

Australia coach Tony Vidmar said, "We started off well, took control of the game, and got the goal we were looking for. But after that we panicked, turned the ball over a lot more. We looked nervous in defence, we didn't have the same intent and urgency to win the ball back. We got a lucky goal but panicked after that and maybe focused too much on the scoreline."

"We then lost two midfielders to injury [Adrian Viggiani and Fabian Monge], and they were players who were controlling the game for us and that was the turning point. Our shape went out the window, they scored one and then the second and third goal killed us off."

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