Vietnamese players on October 23 beat Australian Sydney FC 4-1 in a penalty shootout to win the U21 International Thanh Nien Newspaper Cup in the central coastal province of Ninh Thuan.

The game started at a high tempo in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,000 at the Ninh Thuan Stadium. The first half saw blistering attacks from the two teams. Sky Blues had their opponents rattled early with constant pressing and closing down the Vietnamese players who relied on the long ball to relieve the pressure.

Sydney FC were rewarded for their efforts just one minute from the break when a loose ball in the penalty area was volleyed home by Joshua Macdonald from an angle for much deserved 1-0 lead at the break.

In the 2nd half, the game evened out as Vietnam kept looking to catch the Sky Blues on the counter with quick ball transition in the midfield and then long balls out wide into the channels. This strategy paid off in the 63rd minute when Nguyen Dinh Bao broke through the Sydney back line to level the score.

The score remained unchanged until the final whistle and neither side could find a winner in the end. With no extra time being played in the tournament the winner was decided from the penalty spot.

Vietnamese players were able to capitalise on all four penalties while the Australian squad missed three shots after an initial goal.

Malaysia, who ranked third with five points, will take on Myanmar in the third-place match. Myanmar are in fourth place with four points.

The annual tournament, organised by Thanh Nien (Young people) newspaper, plays in a round-robin format with the two top teams reaching the final. This year’s competition featured five teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Australia, and Vietnam.-VNA