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A brave display by Vietnam in their AFC Asian Cup 2019 Group D opener ultimately went unrewarded on Tuesday as Iraq came from behind twice to claim a 3-2 win, reports Fox Sports Asia.
Despite coming up against formidable opposition at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, it was the Vietnamese – making their first appearance at the tournament since 2007 – who took the lead in the 24th minute.
Nguyen Quang Hai played a probing pass in search of Nguyen Cong Phuong and Ali Faez, in a bid at halt the threat, lost his bearing and inadvertently backheeled the ball into his own goal.
Iraq, champions in 2007, responded five minutes after the half-hour mark after making Do Duy Manh pay for a moment of hesitation, with Mohanad Ali robbing him of possession outside the area and skipping around Que Ngoc Hai before rifling a shot past Dang Van Lam.
Impressively, the Golden Dragons reclaimed the lead three minutes before halftime after Nguyen Trong Hoang was given too much space on the right and tried his luck.
His effort was parried by Jalal Hassan but not far away enough and Cong Phuong reacted quickest to net on the rebound. At this stage, it did look like a real upset was on the cards but the Iraqis always had plenty of quality to call upon, and were even able to send on star midfielder Humam Tariq in the 57th minute.
Just three minutes later, the Esteghlal man made an immediate impact as he pounced on a loose ball to smash home from close range, after Mohanad had hustled well to prevent the Vietnamese from clearing their lines after his initial header had been saved by Van Lam.
Still, it looked as though Vietnam had done enough to claim a creditable point but their hearts were to be shattered in the final minute.
Lining up a freekick on the edge of the box, Ali Adnan proceeded to curl a sublime effort into the top corner to seal a come-from-behind win for the Lions of Mesopotamia.