A late strike from Ali Adnan denied newly crowned ASEAN champions Vietnam the one point from their Group D opener when they fell to a 3-2 loss to Iraq at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The 2007 champions clawed back from two goals down before Adnan’s sublime set-piece secured all three points for Srecko Katanec’s side.
Relying more on the counter-attacks, Nguyen Quang Hai’s searching pass in the 24th minute caused confusion in the Iraqi backline that saw defender Ali Faez turn the ball into his own net.
Iraq gained the equaliser just before the break when Mohanad Ali Kadhim fired home past a diving Dang Van Lâm as Vietnam then fought back with the lead through Nguyen Công Phuong opportunistic strike.
At the hour mark, Iraq drew level once again through substitute Humam Tareq.
And just when things seem destined to head for a draw, Ali Adnan curled in a free-kick right at the end to steal the three points from under Vietnam.