Vietnam almost faced elimination at the end of the group stage. Lebanon's yellow cards in their last match against North Korea gave the advantage for Vietnam and the ticket for the next stage.
After qualifying from the third place, Jordan looked like an obstacle. The Jordanians impressed at the group stage and the goal of Baha' Abdel-Rahman in the first half made them feel comfortable.
Yet, The Golden Dragons had an opportunity to show why this generation is so talented. Vietnam controlled the field during the second half and Nguyen Cung Phoung found the net and equalized. The 23 year-old striker scored his second goal in the tournament.
Vietnam kept playing in the same level at the extra time and the game was decided by penalty shootout. Bui Tien Dung scored the winning penalty, but the real MVP of Vietnam was the goalkeeper, Dang Van Lam, who saved two shots.
With winning the Suzuki Cup a month ago and young generation that made great results, Vietnam qualified once again to the Asian Cup quarter finals, just like they did in their last appearance in 2007. Their next opponent might be a bigger name than Jordan, as it will be the winner between two 2018 World Cup participants, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
The second match was the clash between Thailand and China. The early win of their South-East Asian counterparts made Thailand to wish for their own win. It began well for them, as Supachai Jaided scored first.
China didn't play well, but they managed to use Thailand's mistakes for their own favor. A defensive misunderstanding brought the tie with a goal of Xiao Zhi. Few minutes later, China got a penalty kick and Gao Lin scored.
Marcello Lippi and Team Dragon can celebrate their comeback, but they are still far from being an impressive side. They conceded first in three out of their four matches. Twice they eventually won, but the only time that they failed to do so was against South Korea, when China played as underdogs. In the next round they would be a clear underdogs against Iran.
On the other hand, Thailand can be proud of their Asian Cup campaign. Qualifying for the knockout stage and leading in this match until the 67th minute was something that you couldn't expect from a team that was defeated 4-1 at their opening match and sacked their manager. If they will keep using their promising talented players, Thailand will make more great campaigns in the future.