Defending champions Vietnam have advanced to the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals as Group B runners-up after a 4-0 win over Cambodia at Bishan Stadium on Sunday.

A first-half brace from Nguyen Tien Linh put the Golden Star Warriors firmly in control before Bui Tien Dung and Nguyen Quang Hai added further goals after the interval.

But the victory was insufficient to see Park Hang-seo’s side finish on top of the standings after Indonesia’s 4-1 win over Malaysia in the other Group B match saw the Garuda claim first position and means that Vietnam face a date with Thailand in the last four.

“We won the game and the players tried their best, so I’m satisfied with the result,” said Park.

“We have qualified for the semi-final as runners-up of the group so it means we’ll have one more day to rest before the Thailand game. We haven’t conceded any goals so far and that is because of the good job done by the defence and the midfield, but I still want to see us improve in defence and attack.”

Vietnam opened the scoring just three minutes in when Quang Hai played a lovely through ball for the recalled Tien Linh, who slotted past Kimhuy Hul for his first goal of the campaign.

Quang Hai had a sight on goal in the 14th minute when he received the ball from Nguyen Cong Phuong, advanced forward unchallenged and curled in an effort from 20 yards that Hul parried wide for a corner.

Creator-in-chief Quang Hai was at the heart of everything the Golden Star Warriors were doing, and he dinked a lovely pass over the top for Tien Linh, who lofted the ball over the goalkeeper but defender Yue Safy was on hand to head clear.

The holders doubled their advantage in the 27th minute when Nguyen Hoang Duc played into the path of Tien Linh, who took one touch and rifled the ball home with a stunning effort from 25 yards.

Tien Linh could have completed his hat-trick early in the second half after neat interchange play between Luong Xuan Truong and Quang Hai but when the striker pulled the trigger Sambeth Tes denied him with a last-ditch block.

Quang Hai fizzed wide just moments later and curled a free-kick narrowly off target as Vietnam cranked up the tempo in search of a third.

And the defending champions did add to their tally in the 55th minute when Ho Tan Tai’s cross from the right was headed home by centre-back Tien Dung as Vietnam all but secured their place in the last four.

The fourth goal was not long in coming either as Hoang Duc played in Quang Hai and the midfielder made no mistake in sending a delightful left-footed effort from the right side of the penalty area beyond Hul.

Chan Vathanaka fired a rare shot for the Cambodians wide as the hour approached before Quang Hai was inches away from adding his second when his effort from distance flew past the left post.  

With Indonesia 4-1 up against Malaysia in the other Group B game, Vietnam needed a fifth to finish on top of the standings and substitute Nguyen Van Toan saw his effort blocked with three minutes remaining before Ha Duc Chinh also went close.

But it was not to be as the holders had to settle for second place while Cambodia exit having picked up one win from their four games. 

“We wanted to stick to our game plan against one of the best teams in ASEAN and we did well, but the early goals we conceded affected the players’ confidence,” said Cambodia coach Ryu Hirose.

“Even though we lost three games it was a good experience for the players, especially the younger players who will play in the [2023] Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh.

“Sometimes we played well and sometimes we didn’t but the players will have learned a lot from this experience which will help them in the future.”