HANOI (AFP) - Uruguayan-born striker Sebastian Quintana Soria rescued Qatar from the jaws of defeat as they battled back for a 1-1 draw against unfancied co-hosts Vietnam here Thursday.
Soria, whose 88th-minute free kick secured a 1-1 draw against defending champions Japan in their Group B opener, struck late again with a 79th-minute header that cancelled out an early strike by Vietnam forward Phan Thanh Binh.
The result still left Vietnam, who upset United Arab Emirates when they returned to the continental cup finals for the first time in 47 years, at the top of the group on four points.
Asian Games gold medallists Qatar have two points with Japan on one. Japan and the UAE face each other on Friday.
"I am satisfied with how our team played," Qatar coach Dzemaludin Musovic said. "Both teams tried to play a good quality of football.
"The situation in the whole group has become open, Everything is possible," added the Bosnian, who was assistant to Japan coach Ivica Osim when they led the former Yugoslavia to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals.
Vietnam coach Alfred Riedl said the result was "lucky."
"Qatar were especially strong in the last 20-25 minutes as they created a lot of chances. We had some difficult situations," said the Austrian, now in his third stint as Vietnam coach since 1998.
"We'll try to get points from Japan. Otherwise we should't be here," Riedl added. "We will not make it easy for Japan."
Phan's goal came in the 32nd minute when he caught the ball on a counter-attack in midfield and drilled a 20-metre shot toward the goal.
In a comical schoolboy error, Qatar goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr fumbled the ball and it squirmed underneath him and dribbled over the line.
Qatar controlled the game early on with Soria the danger man, causing all sorts of problems for goalkeeper Phung Van Nhien.
But Vietnam slowly picked up their pace with sporadic attacks as the full-house crowd got behind their team.
It was Soria though who came closest to drawing first blood in the 21st minute when his shot through two defenders was gathered by Phung, before Panh broke the deadlock.
The game heated up in the second half as the partisan sellout crowd of 40,000 chanted "Vietnam, Vietnam" and roared on their team with Mexican waves at the My Dinh National Stadium, sensing another shock victory.
They held their breath in astonishment when Qatar launched a blistering attack in the 62nd minute with Hassan Magid banging the ball off the far post and Soria pushing the rebound wide.
But Soria always looked dangerous and headed in a rebound off substitute Ali Yahya's shot in the 79th minute.
Qatar squandered a golden chance to win the game four minutes later when Yahya rattled the bar and headed the rebound onto the top of the net.
|15||Talal Al Bloushi||22'|
|Coach: D. Mušović|
for Waleed Jassem 58'
for Adel Lamy 73'
for Majed Mohammed 78'
for Vu Nhu Thanh 55'
for Phan Van Tai Em 82'
for Phan Thanh Binh 90+4'
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