Vietnam beat Malaysia 2-1 in the first match of Group I in the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) U23 Championship Qualifier in Kuala Lumpur on March 27.

The win has strengthened the Vietnamese squad's chances of entering the final round, which will see 10 group winners and five second-placed teams from all groups, who will join hosts Qatar at the AFC U23 Championship 2016.

The January 16, 2016 team competition would also serve as Asia's qualifying tournament for the Summer Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro next year.

Malaysia's Captain Nazirul Naimche Hashim opened the scorecard in the 35th minute of the match, which saw the visiting side play on the offensive from the beginning.

Just three minutes after the opener, Vo Huy Toan levelled the score for Vietnam with a magnificent shot straight into the net.

Striker Nguyen Cong Phuong received the ball near the box. He managed to move to the right before heeling Toan, who ran fast and aimed a canon shot at goalkeeper Farhan.

SHB Da Nang FC's striker suffered an injury and left the field earlier-than-expected. But he said he would be okay for the next game.

Towards the end of the first half, many in the audience thought the match would end in a 1-1 draw. But it was Phuong who made a difference.

He grabbed a goal for himself after tapping a perfect long free kick from Vietnam side.

The famous player broke the offside trap and made an easy job of the 2-1 score for his side.

In an earlier match of the group, Japan began their campaign with a bang as they whipped Macau 7-0 at the Shah Alam Stadium.

Buoyed by their massive opening success, Japan will be aiming for a second consecutive win when they play against Vietnam, while Macau will seek their first victory as they face hosts Malaysia tomorrow.-VNA