Vietnam turned in one of the best performances seen at the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup as they eased past Malaysia 3-0 at Bishan Stadium in a repeat of the final from the previous edition.

A devastating first half in which Nguyen Cong Phuong and Nguyen Quang Hai both scored was enough to set up the win, with Nguyen Hoang Duc capping the victory with a late third.

It was a result that sends Vietnam top of the Group B standings and which gives the defending champions real belief, according to coach Park Hang-seo.

“It’s always a difficult game against Malaysia so I’m delighted to win," said the Korean, who guided the Golden Stars to the 2018 title. 

“I believe in my players and I’m satisfied with the win but as to whether or not this makes us the favourites now is not something that I can answer. How people view our team is something that we’ll leave to other people.”

Vietnam started at a furious intensity and had a good chance to take the lead within 90 seconds as Cong Phuong blazed wide from a good position before Malaysia suffered a blow as their captain, Aidil Zafuan, was forced off with a leg injury midway through the half.

That was the moment when the relentless pressure finally told as firstly Quang Hai smashed home a cutback from Nguyen Tuan Anh in the 32nd minute before he then turned provider as a delightful flick released Cong Phuong who powered into the box and fired past Khairul Fahmi four minutes later to hand Vietnam a 2-0 lead at the break.

The Golden Stars continued to dictate the tempo of the match after the restart with Quang Hai unable to keep down a volleyed effort from the top of the box in the 56th minute before substitute Nguyen Tien Linh couldn’t set himself for a shot in a promising position midway through the period.

With Vietnam in complete control, the tempo then went out of the contest for much of the remainder although there was still time for another goal as Hoang Duc collected the ball midway inside the half, strode into the box and around a couple of defenders before stroking his shot low and past the 'keeper to round out the impressive 3-0 win.

For Malaysia it’s now a case of regrouping ahead of their final match with Indonesia, according to coach Tan Cheng Hoe.

“We fought hard but we lost to the better team so we need to stay focussed and concentrate on the next match against Indonesia," he said.

“Of course we are dealing with injuries and COVID issues and that means that the morale is low in the squad. I think also that we gave Vietnam too much respect and played with too much caution in defending deep so we have a lot to learn and this was a big lesson for us.”