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Group A: Late strike sends Australia into semis

Chonburi: Mary Fowler's 84th minute goal sealed Australia second spot in Group A and place in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 semi-finals after they defeated Vietnam 1-0 at the IPE Chonburi Stadium on Saturday.

Australia joined DPR Korea, who defeated hosts Thailand 3-1 in Group A’’s other fixture on Saturday, in the semi-finals and they will meet either Japan, Korea Republic or China PR in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

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Australia, needing a win as Vietnam had the better goal difference heading into the match, tried to make an impact from the start and came close to scoring in the third minute when Rachel Lowe found Mary Fowler who made space down the centre but her shot was blocked by Vietnam’s Nguyen Xuan Diep.

Vietnam, however, had the first clear look at goal in the sixth minute with Nguyen Tu Anh seeing her curling effort comfortably saved by Australian goalkeeper Annalee Grove.

It was a cagey affair as both teams fought for possession but it was Vietnam who came close again with Nguyen Tu Anh again seeing her effort from outside the box blocked in the 24th minute.

Vietnam almost found the back of the net a minute later but Cu Huynh Nhu angled her header just wide following Nguyen Hoa’s corner.

Luong Thu Thuong then sent her effort high above the bar from inside the area in the 39th minute while Ngo Hong Nhung failed to find the mark from distance two minutes before the break.

Australia brought on Princess Ibini and Charlotte Grant at the start of the second half, which was delayed due to torrential rain, but it was Vietnam who continued to dictate terms.

Captain Nguyen Tuyet Ngan almost put the Southeast Asians ahead in the 54th minute when she found space inside the box but an alert Grove saved the effort.

Ngan Van Su then found herself through on goal two minutes later but her finishing left much to be desired.

Australia, however, gradually began to exert control and had the ball in the net in the 69th minute, only for Fowler’s effort to be disallowed.

Leah Blayney’s charges however, finally found the breakthrough in the 84th minute when Fowler gained possession inside the box to fire Australia into the lead.

Vietnam threw players forward in search of the equaliser that would have taken them through on goal difference but Australia held on to stay in sight of the Continental title and a place in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2020 Nigeria.

Akira Ijiri: Vietnam head coach

“I’m proud of my players today. They’re the best team Vietnam has seen in this competition. They showed a good performance especially in the first half. We had chances to score  throughout the match but were unlucky. The players gave their 100 percent in the match and I shoulder the blame for this defeat.”

Leah Blayney: Australia head coach

“We prepared very well for the match against Vietnam. We had a good game plan going and it worked with our possession-based football. We found it difficult to execute the shots in the first half due to the rain. At the end of the day, our attitude and never say die mentally helped us with the win.”

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