Vientiane: Vietnam’s bid to become the champions of Southeast Asia for a third time is off to a winning start after they defeated Laos 6-0 in the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 at the National Stadium KM16 in Vientiane on Wednesday. 

Nguyen Tien Linh scored Vietnam’s first goal of the 2022 edition in the 15th minute before captain Do Hung Dung made it 2-0 before half-time. The floodgates opened in the second half as goals from Ho Tan Tai, Doan Van Hau, Nguyen Van Toan and Vu Van Thanh rounded off a dominant victory.

The Golden Star Warriors go straight to the top of Group B with the win, but an injury scare to star man Nguyen Quang Hai will be head coach Park Hang-seo’s biggest concern going into the next matchday. 

As expected, it was the 2018 champions who began the game in Vientiane on the front foot. Their first clear chance fell to Phan Van Duc who received a pass from Quang Hai in front of the Laos goal and fired over, 10 minutes in. 

Five minutes later, full-back Van Hau delivered an inch-perfect cross for Tien Linh who popped up between two Laos defenders to head in his 13th international goal and give the Golden Star Warriors a 1-0 lead. 

Vietnam went close again in the 21st minute when Tien Linh’s shot was diverted by Hung Dung in front of the goal, only to see it roll wide of the target. 

A young Laos side rarely ventured forward in the first half, but captain Soukaphone Vongchiengkham did try to catch Dang Van Lam off guard with a shot from distance in the 33rd minute but the Vietnam goalkeeper to collected easily. 

Soon after, Vietnam suffered a setback when Park was forced to take off their talisman Quang Hai with a suspected hamstring injury. His replacement Nguyen Van Quyet was straight into action, testing Laos goalkeeper Keo-Oudone Souvannasangso with a header. 

Van Quyet was also involved as the visitors doubled their lead two minutes from the break as he was played through on goal. Nalongsit Chanhthalangsy got back to dispossess the veteran forward, but his weak clearance fell to Vietnam captain Hung Dung who expertly finished low into the far right corner. 

The two-time champions continued their dominance after the restart with a third goal coming in the 55th minute. Van Duc’s delivery into the box was flicked by Nguyen Than Chung towards the far corner where right-back Tan Tai pounced to silence the Thim Xad supporters again. 

It was 4-0 three minutes later, thanks to Van Hau who was lively down the left wing all evening and deservedly got on the scoresheet. The Hanoi FC man brought down a ball from Nguyen Hoang Duc inside the box and fired home with the outside of his foot from a tight angle to spark celebrations in the Vietnam dugout. 

Substitute Van Toan added a fifth for Vietnam with a low drive from the edge of the box in the 85th minute before Van Thanh wrapped the 6-0 win in second-half stoppage time, getting behind the Laotian defence and finishing past Keo-Oudone.