Vietnam remained top of Group B of the 2015 SEA Games football tournament after a hard fought 1-0 win over Laos on Thursday night.
Despite wasting a number of chances throughout the match, a brilliant first-time strike from substitute Nguyen Thanh Vien in the 65th minute was enough to keep the Golden Stars ahead of defending champions Thailand on goal difference with both teams having a maximum of nine points from three matches.
Laos remain fifth in the six-team group with three points from three matches are stuck on three points and will need to win their remaining matches coupled with favourable results from the other matches remaining to qualify for the semi-finals.
The slippery Bishan pitch soaked by a downpour just before kick-off meant a scrappy start to the game, with both teams failing to control the ball properly and passes became sloppy.
Vietnam pushed its players forward and camped in the opponents' half while Laos' massed defence saw players throwing bodies at every loose ball to stem the onslaught.
The Laotians carried on in the same vein in the second-half, keeping organised and compact, with Vietnam's star playmaker and leading scorer with three goals, Nguyen Cong Phuong, marked tightly and starved of possession.
Nguyen Thanh Vien's goal then sparked Vietnam to life as three more clear-cut chances were carved out in quick succession after but the Gold Stars were wasteful in front of goal.
Vietnam and Laos will both meet Timor Leste on Sunday and next Tuesday respectively. Both games will be played at Bishan Stadium.