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Hanoi: A terrific second half performance helped Vietnam defeat Myanmar 2-0 and secure a ticket to next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

The result means an eighth visit to Asia’s continental women’s football showpiece for Vietnam, who finished the Group D qualifiers with four wins from their four games, while Myanmar are left to rue what could have been after finishing second some three points adrift.

Myanmar captain Khin Marlar Tun passed a late fitness test to return to Roger Reijners’ starting eleven for the first time since Matchday One, with tournament revelation Huynh Nuh retaining her place for Vietnam after bagging five goals in her last two matches.

In a group that had produced a whopping 67 goals in just nine matches, the two teams bucked that trend early on; cancelling each other out in a tense opening period, before Myanmar veteran Naw Ar Lo Wer Phaw brought the game to life in the 27th minute.

As the Vietnam defence failed the clear the ball after some trickery by superb winger Win Thiengi Tun, Phaw stole in to hammer the ball against the crossbar from close range.

It would prove to be the closest either team came to breaking the deadlock in the first half, although Pham Hai Yen had the partisan home crowd on their feet when she narrowly failed to get on the end of Nugyen Thi Xuyen’s dangerous cross.

Vietnam then spurned a golden opportunity to take the lead just moments into the second half, Myanmar goalkeeper Mya Phu Ngon reacting smartly to deny Vu Thi Nhung from point blank range when she looked odds on to score.

The hosts began to turn the screws, forcing Ngon into a save again from Huynh Nhu minutes later, before the diminutive striker blazed a left foot volley high and wide when Myanmar failed to clear a corner.

Vietnam’s pressure finally paid dividends when Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung slalomed through the Myanmar defence, before clipping her shot against the right hand upright and pouncing on the rebound to stroke the ball into an empty net to give her country a precious 1-0 lead after 55 minutes.

It was the star winger’s fourth, and most important, goal of the tournament and, with Vietnam needing only a draw to qualify, it gave Myanmar a mountain to climb.

Nonetheless, the hosts pushed on in search of a second goal and came close through the excellent Huynh Nhu, but Myanmar refused to wilt, with captain Marlar Tun belying her recent injury worries to play an influential role in midfield.

Despite her efforts, the game appeared to have slipped out of Roger Reijner’s side’s reach when Vietnam were awarded a penalty after Ngon brought down Tuyet Dung, but Huynh Nhu blazed the spot kick over the bar to give Myanmar a glimmer of hope with 15 minutes remaining.

However, the menacing Hunyh Nhu was to have the last laugh just seven minutes later, when she was on hand to put the game beyond doubt, finishing calmly from close range as Myanmar pushed players forward in a desperate late search for goals.

Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chung:
“I want to thank everyone; the players, the crowd and the media. I’m extremely happy that we completed the mission, especially as this is our first tournament for the year, and we achieved a great result. Our goal remains to play in the World Cup. However there is a big gap between Vietnam and other countries which we will try to close. Our weakness tonight was the tempo. I sympathise with the players because it was hot tonight, but you have to adapt because this is our country. Nugyen Thi Tuyet Dung is a key player for Vietnam, and I trust her. She should have taken the penalty but she has a little injury so she gave the chance to Huynh Nuh.”

Myanmar head coach Roger Reijners:
“I’m proud of our first half. We played a good first half, but in the second half we had some problems with the passing game of Vietnam and also they were pressing us a little bit earlier. What you saw in our team was the gap between our lines got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger and that was an advantage for Vietnam."

Photos: Vietnam Football Federation