Football Tribe SEA Editor
The 2020 V.League 1’s eleventh round kicked-off on Thursday night with a set of three matches and interestingly there were no winners from those three matches. All of Thursday’s V.League 1 action ended in stalemates, with two 1-1 draws and a goalless one.
Thanh Hoa FC hosted Hoang Anh Gia Lai at the Thanh Hoa Stadium in the first of Thursday’s three matches, with HAGL looking for their first away win of the season. Despite being 4th coming into Round 11, HAGL’s away record has been woeful – three draws and two losses. By contrast, the Central Vietnam-based side has an impregnable home record, having yet to taste defeat at their Pleiku Stadium. With recent form seeing Lee Tae-hoon’s men being undefeated in their last 4 matches, many would see HAGL as the favorites for this tie.
HAGL carved out a couple of excellent chances in the match’s opening stage, with Chevaughn Walsh’s shot going agonizingly wide in the 3rd minute and a Luong Xuan Truong free-kick was unable to be finished off by Truong Trong Sang from close range in the 7th minute. Thanh Hoa had their own chances as well, with the likes of Hoang Vu Samson threatening Tran Buu Ngoc’s goal. HAGL’s attacks were powered by excellent balls from Xuan Truong and Dung Quang Nho, however Walsh and Nguyen Van Toan were unable to break through the excellent Thanh Hoa defense, marshaled by Cameroonian Louis Ewonde.
In the end, the highlight of the Thanh Hoa-HAGL match was the return of Nguyen Anh Duc. The legendary Vietnamese striker, who was released by Becamex Binh Duong at the end of the 2019 season, made his comeback to football after a period of hiatus in the iconic white shirt of HAGL. Anh Duc went into the pitch as a substitute replacing Tran Minh Vuong, much to the excitement of the HAGL fans packing the Thanh Hoa Stadium’s away end.
During the closing stages of the match, Thanh Hoa had actually scored a goal thanks to an Aime Djicka Gassissou volley, however the referee disallowed the goal after Samson had fouled Buu Ngoc in the buildup towards the goal. In the end, the showdown at the Thanh Hoa Stadium ended in a goalless stalemate – a result that meant HAGL remained 4th on the table while Thanh Hoa went up to 8th place.
At the Thien Truong Stadium, struggling Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh hosted 5th placed Binh Duong, with the hosts looking for a result to lift them off the bottom three of the V.League 1 standings. The match was an exciting encounter, with Thiago Papel of Nam Dinh bagging the first chance of the game with a bicycle kick that went straight into Binh Duong goalie Pham Van Tien’s grasps. However, Binh Duong has the fourth best away record in the V.League 1 this season, having earned 9 points on the road. The visitors from the South carved out a number of opportunities and they eventually took the lead in the 60th minute. Despite losing their top scorer Hedipo to injury and with Nguyen Tien Linh showing signs of pain on the pitch, Binh Duong drew first blood after Ho Tan Tai headed in an in-swinging free-kick into Dinh Xuan Viet’s goal.
Being a goal down made Nam Dinh went on an all-out offense. Thiago had his shot going skyward in the 64th minute, while Rafaelson’s long-ranged effort in the 67th minute lacked power and accuracy as went wide. However in the 69th minute the hosts got their equalizer, after Van Tien failed to clear the ball fare enough and allowing Tran Manh Cuong to thump in a powerful strike that went into the goal.
With the scores now level, Nam Dinh pushed hard for a winner to complete the comeback. The men in yellow had two chances to turn the game in their favor, however a Thiago free-kick in the 82nd minute missed its target while Do Merlo ballooned his injury time chance into the sky. In the end, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
A 1-1 draw was also the final result at the Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi as Viettel FC were forced to share the points with SHB Da Nang. Da Nang had taken the lead in the 38th minute thanks to Croat Igor Jelic, however Bui Quang Khai’s strike in the 67th minute salvaged the point for the Red Tornado.
Round 11 continues on Friday with the big one – a clash of the titans as defending champions Hanoi FC take on a Ho Chi Minh City FC side who are trying to reclaim the V.League 1 summit at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City. Meanwhile, league leaders Sai Gon FC are aiming to solidify their position and extend their unbeaten run as they visit rock-bottom Quang Nam FC at the Tam Ky Stadium. Hong Linh Ha Tinh pay Hai Phong FC a visit at the Lach Tray Stadium, while last but not least Than Quang Ninh welcome Song Lam Nghe An to the Cam Pha Stadium.