Both the games of the day were full of goals.
The action rolled on in the AFC Asian Cup, which saw two quite different games take place on Tuesday. The first, which saw Iraq come from behind to down a revitalized Vietnam side 3-2 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, was arguably the best game of the tournament so far.
Due to Iraq’s defensive errors, Vietnam took the lead twice in the first half, through an own-goal from Iraqi defender Ali Faez and Nguyen Phuong, after some brilliant work from Nguyen Quang Hai. However, Iraq came back strongly in the second half, with inspired substitute Humam Farej equalizing things. In the dying minutes, Ali Adnan’s brilliant free-kick won the game for Usood Al-Rafidain, who proved their never-say-die attitude with the three points.
Watch: Iraq 3-2 Vietnam highlights
The question for them remains as to whether they should’ve been more composed defensively? Absolutely. Iraq looked very shaky with Vietnam’s clever attacks and caused their own downfall with some horrible errors. They’ll need to improve defensively if they’re to have a chance of tussling with Iran. Speaking of Iran, many will question whether this side can defeat the giants? That’s debatable. Iraq showed a lot of character with the win and if they can frustrate them with strong defending, Iraq could get a result against Carlos Queiroz’s men.
For Vietnam, they’ll wonder whether they should’ve preserved some energy for later on in the game? Probably. However, Vietnam gave their everything before exhaustion caused a demise late on. They need to be clever in reserving energy for a final surge in the next couple of games. Could Vietnam’s attack help them qualify for the knockout rounds? Maybe. They’re still defensively too weak and physically inferior to other sides. Although, if they tune up their attacking flow, they could create surprises.
The second game was quite the opposite. In an extremely one-sided encounter, Saudi Arabia got their campaign underway in style, thrashing North Korea 4-0 at the Rashid Stadium, Dubai. After a cagey start, the floodgates opened in the 28th minute through Hatan Bahbri. Mohammed Al-Fatil added another eleven minutes later, before Korean midfielder Han Kwang-song was sent off in the 44th minute.
Watch: Saudi Arabia 4-0 DPR Korea highlights
The Saudis dominated proceedings, later on, scoring two more through Salem Al-Dawsari and Fahad Al-Muwallad. North Korea had a few swipes at goal, but all the attempts were saved heroically by Mohammed Al-Owais. For them, the question would be, did Song’s red card kill the game? Probably. However, Korea were already way behind before that happened and the sending off only worsened their situation.
There’s also the question of whether Korea should’ve defended more sensibly? Definitely. While Saudi were relentless in attack, Chilloma made it too easy for them with positional errors in defence, mistakes from defenders and affording space in the final third. For the winners, the question will be, can they pick things up from here? Probably. Saudi Arabia slacked off slightly after the red card and kept their full potential in reserve. They’re unpredictable attack can pick up in bigger games against stronger opposition.
Another question would be, whether Saudi Arabia can make any improvements? They could definitely improve their defending, which lapsed in concentration at times, forcing Al-Owais to bail them out with fantastic saves. The Green Falcons should also be more clinical in finishing chances, as they missed a few in this game which could prove costly on another occasion.