HANOI: Harimau Malaya were defeated 0-3 by Vietnam in a controversial AFF Cup Group B match that saw both teams reduced to 10 men at the My Dinh National Stadium here tonight.
Vietnamese striker Nguyen Van Toan and Malaysian defender Azam Azmi Murad were sent off by Japanese referee Ryuji Sato in the first and second half, respectively.
Malaysia struggled to assert themselves on a slippery pitch, which saw Vietnam’s “Golden Star Warriors”, coached by Park Hang Seo, dominating the visitors, and eventually taking the lead courtesy of Nguyen Tien Linh’s header from a corner in the 29th minute.
But minutes later, Vietnam were reduced to 10 men when Van Toan, who had been booked earlier, was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Dominic Tan.
Five minutes later, Malaysia had an opportunity to equalise but R Ruventhiran’s shot went wide, and another attempt by Muhammad Mukhairi from close range was tipped over by goalkeeper Dang Van Lam.
The second half was embroiled in controversy when the referee sent off defender Muhammad Azam for a foul on Doan Van Hau off the pitch in the 64th minute and awarded Vetnam a penalty, which was tucked away by Que Ngoc Hai.
South Korean coach Kim Pan Gon brought in young striker Nur Shamie Iszuan Amin and Sergio Aguero to beef up the Malaysian attack but the duo failed to make an impact.
Vietnam scored their third goal in the 83rd minute through Nguyen Hoang Duc to maintain their unbeaten record against Malaysia since 2014.
The win gave Vietnam six points and moved them to the top of Group B. Malaysia are second also with six points but have played three matches. They must beat Singapore at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Jan 3 to have any chance of making the semifinals.