Sunday 20 January 2019, 19:08

Penalties pivotal as Asian knockouts commence

Nguyen Huy Hung of Vietnam waves to the crowd at the final whistle
  • Vietnam earn historic shoot-out win over Jordan

  • China PR come from behind to see off Thailand

  • IR Iran survive early scare and eliminate Oman

The first day of knockout action in the AFC Asian Cup was decided by those who held their nerve from 12 yards as spot-kicks were key in a trio of encounters.

Vietnam survived a penalty shoot-out to become the first side into the quarter-finals, with China PR and IR Iran swiftly following them thanks to efforts from the spot going their way, too. looks back over the day’s action in United Arab Emirates as the tournament becomes do or die for all involved.

Jordan 1-1 Vietnam (2-4 PSO) Rashid Al-Maktoum Stadium, Dubai

Vietnam’s tournament to remember continued as they booked their last-eight spot thanks to a nail-biting shoot-out triumph against Jordan. It was the West Asian side who were on top in the opening period though. They had already threatened before Baha’a Abdulrahman rattled in a thumping free-kick with half-time looming, picking out the top corner superbly.

Park Hangseo’s side returned reinvigorated and took no time at all in levelling matters after the break, with Nguyen Cong Phuong meeting Nguyen Trong Hoang’s cross to power home the equaliser. Another hour of action saw neither side come up with a winner and it was left to Bui Tien Dung to lash the crucial penalty into the bottom corner, as Vietnam survived an Asian Cup knockout match for the first time in their history.

Thailand 1-2 China PR Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain

A second-half double for China saw them come from behind to bag their spot in the last eight at the expense of a Thailand side competing in their first Asian Cup knockout match since 1972. Thailand landed the first blow on the half-hour mark when a sharp swivel from Supachai Jaided allowed him to fire the War Elephants in front, but persistence from Marcelo Lippi’s side ensured they weren’t going to be heading home just yet.

First it was Xiao Zhi who, following up on his powerful header, managed to stab China back on terms with just over 20 minutes to go. But it took just four for them to find the all-important winner, thanks largely to some reckless defending from Chalermpong Kerdkaew. He brought down Gao Lin in the area who duly dusted himself off and fired high into the top corner to send China through.

IR Iran 2-0 Oman Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

It all could have been so different for Oman. Having won a penalty inside a minute they could have had the perfect start, but a sensational fingertip save by Ali Beiranvand denied captain Ahmed Al Mahajiri. Iran didn’t waste that stroke of good fortune.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh pounced on some casual defending to toe Team Melli ahead, before Ashkan Dejagah didn’t make the same mistake as his opposite number, with the skipper doubling their advantage from the spot before the break. Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi should have put the game to bed on several occasions in the second period, but they weren’t made to pay for their profligacy as Asia’s top-ranked side cruised into the quarters, where they’ll meet China.