Sport Rhyan Grant on target as Socceroos edge Vietnam 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

Rhyan Grant on target as Socceroos edge Vietnam 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

Vietnam's Van Toan Nguyen tussles with Australia's Rhyan Grant in Hanoi on Tuesday night. Photo: AFP/Getty
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Right back Rhyan Grant’s first goal for his country has secured the Socceroos a hard-fought 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Vietnam.

On a hot and humid Tuesday evening at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Grant’s headed finish just before half-time was enough to extend Australia’s winning streak to 10 matches.

With an organised and resolute Vietnam providing stiff resistance, Australia huffed and puffed for large parts of the first half without creating a clear chance.

Just when it appeared the teams would go into the break level, however, Adjin Hrustic’s curled cross to the back post in the 43rd minute was allowed to bounce in the box before Grant headed past goalkeeper Dang Van Lam.

Hrustic was arguably Australia’s most influential attacking player despite the presence of Celtic star Tom Rogic, with in-form winger Martin Boyle not selected due to the hamstring niggle picked up in Friday’s 3-0 win over China in Qatar.

Grant had earlier endured a nervous couple of minutes after a shot by Nguyen Phong Hong Duy hit his right arm.

Referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim went to the sidelines to view replays of the incident on the monitor but much to Australia’s relief decided to uphold his original decision of no penalty against Grant.

That was one of several nervy moments for Graham Arnold’s men against the Group B minnows, who ended the match with more shots than Australia despite the Socceroos having more than 70 per cent possession.

Second-half substitute Mitch Duke thought he’d wrapped up the win with a tidy finish in the dying minutes, but his strike was ruled out for offside.

It was the second time an Australian goal was chalked off, with Adam Taggart bundling home an effort in the first half which was called back due to Brad Smith being unable to keep the ball in play before he cut it back across the six-yard box.

The win, coupled with the victory over China, means Australia has two wins from its opening two matches in the third stage of qualifying.

“It’s always difficult when you’re trying to qualify for a World Cup,” Grant told Network 10.

“We knew coming here would be a tough game and it definitely was.

“We got the three points … that’s the most important thing, but yeah it was a difficult one.”

Vietnam is still waiting for its first point in its first appearance at this stage of qualification having been defeated 3-1 by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh in their opening fixture.

Australia’s next fixtures will be against Oman and old rivals Japan in October, with Football Australia pushing to have the game against Oman played in Sydney in what would be the Socceroos’ first home fixture since 2019.