The second preliminary round of the AFC Champions League saw Hanoi FC take on Bangkok United with a place in the playoff round at stake. In what was a closely fought tie, the Vietnamese side made their chances count and emerger victors. Here’s what we observed during the match.
#1 Falkesgaard’s heroics
Michael Falkesgaard – All Saves from AFC Asian Cup 2019
Michael Falkesgaard stepped up in place of Neil Etheridge during Philippines’ AFC Asian Cup run. The stand-in goalkeeper did well and it looked as if he had carried over his form over to the club competitions.
The Filippino was at his best throughout the entirety of the match and made some stunning saves to keep his side in the tie. He was tested early on twice by Ganiyu Oseni, who failed to beat him in one-on-one situations both times. Falkesgaard them made the best save of the match when he diverted Do Duy Manh’s volley from inside the box over the crossbar.
He kept his good form throughout the match but unfortunately ended up on the losing side due to a late penalty.
#2 Wasteful Hanoi
If Hanoi had ended up losing this AFC Champions League tie, many fingers would have been pointed towards the forwards and their wastefulness. The Vietnam side could have gone four up in the first half alone, had they been more lethal.
Ganiyu Oseni was guilty of missing two golden opportunities early in the first half. The Nigerian forward, who is usually deadly inside the box, was sent through on goal twice but failed to score past Falkesgaard on both occasions. Apart from Oseni, chances fell to both Do Duy Manh and Doan Van Hau, with the former deriving a magnificent save from Falkesgaard.
Fortunately for the V League club, they were awarded a late penalty after Everton had brought down Oseni in the box.
#3 Missing Quang Hai
AFC Asian Cup: The Vietnamese Messi? Nguyen Quang Hai’s dead-ball prowess is a big asset for the best team in ASEAN
Nguyen Quang Hai has been a revelation for Vietnam over the past year. The youngster first popped up on the scene when he helped the U-23s make it all the way to the AFC Championship final. Eleven months later, he helped the senior team win the AFF Suzuki Cup, even nabbing the MVP award in the process.
However, the Vietnam forward was unable to show his true talent tonight and was incognito for most of the match. Much of what he tried to do didn’t work as he was constantly surrounded by the Bangkok players. The 21-year-old also failed to produce one of his trademark freekicks when he was awarded a chance in the second half.
Not the best of showings from Quang Hai.
#4 Late, late show from Hanoi
If the first half was even, the second turned out to be completely one-sided; in favour of Bangkok United, that is.
The Thai side pinned Hanoi FC inside their own half for the majority of the second period, as they bombarded Nguyen Van Cong’s goal. They came close to scoring as well, several times, only to be shunned by the opposition defence. And as is the case in football, if you don’t take your chances, they will come back to haunt you.
That is exactly what happened as Hanoi were awarded a penalty in the 89th minute, which Nguyen Van Quyet stepped up to score.
#5 Plenty to cheer but sterner tests await
Hanoi FC would be ecstatic with their AFC Champions League preliminary result. They managed to dig deep and hold their shape against difficult opposition, before killing the game themselves.
However, the Vietnamese side will have one eye on their next fixture, when they face Chinese Super League giants Shandong Luneng and their talented foreign trio – Graziano Pelle, Gil, and Roger Guedes.
On the plus side, if Hanoi manage to beat their opponents, they will find themselves in the AFC Champions League group stage for the very first time.
(Image Credits: AFC, Bangkok United)