Football Tribe SEA Editor
Thursday night’s V.League 1 action saw Song Lam Nghe An did what few deem possible – beating defending league champions Hanoi FC at their Hang Day Stadium fortress. SLNA managed to put up a brave performance deep in enemy’s territory, eking out a 1-0 win that snapped Hanoi’s incredible home record, which saw them being undefeated in the league at the Hang Day from August 2016.
Hanoi were without of the services of both Moses Oloya and Nguyen Quang Hai, the latter being omitted from the starting lineup and instead starting the match from the bench. However Hanoi remained dangerous right from kick-off. Straight off the bat, Hanoi went straight for SLNA’s defense, with Rimario Gordon carving out a chance in the 2nd minute only for his shot to lack the power to beat SLNA goalie Nguyen Van Hoang.
With Hanoi going for an offensive style of play, SLNA decided to sit back and hit the hosts on the counter. The men in yellow rely on the pace of both Ho Tuan Tai and Peter Samuel in opening up Hanoi’s defense. One such counterattack occurred in the 7th minute, with Tuan Tai escaping two Hanoi defenders before firing a shot at goal. Fortunately for Hanoi, goalkeeper Nguyen Van Cong was at hand to deflect the ball away.
The absence of Oloya was felt by Hanoi as they were rocked from time-to-time by SLNA’s dangerous counters. Hanoi also found themselves struggling to penetrate SLNA’s firm defense, however this doesn’t prevent them from endangering Van Hoang’s goal with a number of chances. Hanoi’s best chance of the game came in the 36th minute, when a misplaced pass was intercepted by Hanoi captain Nguyen Van Quyet. He tried his luck with a shot, only for Van Hoang to deflect the ball with his hands, with Rimario seizing the rebound. Rimario attempted a shot, but it agonizingly clipped the goalpost, much to his and the Hanoi players’ dismay.
The first 45 ended goalless, neither team having the advantage over the other.
A confident SLNA picked up their performance from the first half with the same energy and gusto, with all of their hard work paying off magnificently in the 57th minute. Tran Dinh Dong played the ball short to Dang Van Lam (not to be confused with the SCG Muangthong United goalkeeper of the same name), who fired a cannonball of a shot from 16 meters out. Van Cong was left speechless as the ball deflected off the goalpost and into his net, much to the jubilation of the SLNA players and the disbelief of their Hanoi counterparts. 1-0 SLNA and the Hang Day crowd was silenced.
Quang Hai was brought into the field by Hanoi head coach Chu Dinh Nghiem in the 69th minute, with the young star being expected to be the ace up Hanoi’s sleeve to turn things around for the capital side. The SLNA defense stood firm despite Quang Hai’s introduction, as his presence jolted Hanoi’s attacking force into life.
A few minutes after his introduction, Quang Hai showed his class as he performed a speculative shot from outside the penalty area, that went straight towards Van Hoang who deflected it away. Shortly afterwards in the 76th minute Quang Hai weaved himself through the SLNA defense before firing a narrow shot that was parried away by Van Hoang.
As the clock went on, Hanoi increased their pressure as fatigue began to set in the SLNA camp, with the away side trying their best to defend their lead. However, as Hanoi were too busy attacking the SLNA end, Peter Samuel took advantage of the hosts’ lapse in concentration and went deep into enemy lines during the closing stages of the match, providing the ball to Nguyen Van Viet who shot wide. Both Peter Samuel and Phan Van Duc threatened to double SLNA’s advantage during the last 10 minutes of the match, however the men in yellow were more than happy to end the match with a hard-fought 1-0 win.
With that narrow win under their belt, SLNA became the first team since XSKT Can Tho of 2016 to have won a league game in Hanoi’s fearsome Hang Day Stadium, an incredible record that lasted almost four years.
Thursday’s other V.League 1 action saw Thanh Hoa FC finally recording their first win of the season, with an 18th minute strike from Le Van Thang enough to seal a 1-0 win over visiting Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh at the Thanh Hoa Stadium. Meanwhile in Pleiku, hosts Hoang Anh Gia Lai shared the spoils with Sai Gon FC in a 1-1 draw, while in Ha Tinh, hosts Hong Linh Ha Tinh and visitors SHB Da Nang played out a goalless draw.
With round 5 of the 2020 V.League 1 all done and dusted, the league has a new leader sitting in the throne – SLNA. The men from Vinh are still undefeated in the season with 11 points and despite their low goal-scoring record, SLNA can be proud of their defense that has yet to be penetrated in all five matches so far this season. Becamex Binh Duong are second with 10 points, while city rivals Ho Chi Minh City FC and Sai Gon are third and fourth respectively. Defending champions Hanoi are currently seventh with seven points, while Nam Dinh are now bottom of the league with a mere 3 points.