Defending cup champions Hanoi FC put on a five-star performance on Wednesday night as they put Ho Chi Minh City FC to the sword at the Hang Day Stadium. Both Nguyen Van Quyet and Nguyen Quang Hai had a match to remember as the capital side absolutely obliterated Ho Chi Minh City 5-1 to advance to the Vietnamese National Cup final, where city rivals Viettel FC awaits.
Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were without key players for Wednesday’s showdown, with Hanoi lacking the firepower of Rimario Gordon, while Ho Chi Minh City were deprived of the suspended Nguyen Cong Phuong, the injured Vo Huy Toan, and Pape Diakite. Ho Chi Minh City did had the chance to introduce their two new foreign signings though, with Costa Ricans Ariel Rodriguez and Jose Guillermo Ortiz making their debuts for the Red Battleship at the empty Hang Day.
The first half was evenly contested between the two despite the missing players, with Ho Chi Minh City seeing much of the ball and the two teams exchanging shot after shot. Ho Chi Minh City also had their fair share of chances in the first half, however they were unable to make any of them count. And Hanoi soon punished Ho Chi Minh City for their poor finishing just before half-time. A free-kick from outside the box was executed beautifully by Quang Hai, with the ball going straight towards Ho Chi Minh City goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung. Tien Dung rushed out to catch the ball, however an onrushing Van Quyet was faster, and the Hanoi captain poked the ball into Tien Dung’s goal to open the scoreline for Hanoi.
Two minutes after the referee had started the second half, Hanoi went straight for the jugular and the men in purple doubled their lead. Another free-kick from outside the box was taken by Quang Hai, this time from the right flank. The ball went straight towards Nguyen Thanh Chung, who stabbed home a header to double Hanoi’s advantage.
Ho Chi Minh City acted swiftly after finding themselves two goals down and in the 49th minute, just two minutes after Thanh Chung’s goal, the Red Battleship managed to reduce the deficit. Do Van Thuan, who sealed Ho Chi Minh City’s place in the semifinal with his last-minute goal against Ba Ria-Vung Tau in the third round, was fed the ball by Tran Phi Son and he rifled in a brilliant shot that beat Hanoi goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong.
Having gotten themselves a goal back, Ho Chi Minh City immediately chased for the equalizer, pushing men forward and leaving their defense open for Hanoi’s hungry attackers. 15 minutes after Van Thuan’s goal, Hanoi added more to their advantage through an impressive Quang Hai. Moses Oloya, Hanoi’s only foreigner in their starting lineup on Wednesday night, easily weaved his way into the Ho Chi Minh City defense, before playing the ball towards Thanh Chung. Thanh Chung acted quickly and passed the ball towards Quang Hai, who tapped in a powerful shot that left Tien Dung utterly bewildered – 3-1 Hanoi.
With both Ariel and Ortiz unable to fulfill the game-changing roles that Cong Phuong and Huy Toan had last time out, Ho Chi Minh City were left at the mercy of Hanoi. With the Red Battleship taking more risks in order to keep themselves alive in the match, Hanoi had enough time to seal Ho Chi Minh City’s fate with two goals in the closing 15 minutes of the match – captain Van Quyet made it 4-1 in the 75th minute with a scrappily-taken finish after Tien Dung had saved his initial shot, before the hat-trick was sealed in the first minute of injury time. Substitute Pape Omar Faye had lured Tien Dung out of his line, before he passed the ball short towards Van Quyet. The Hanoi captain then smashed the ball into the empty net before Tien Dung could recover his composure. 5-1 Hanoi and that was the final scoreline, which ensured the capital side’s passage to the Vietnamese National Cup final.
Awaiting Hanoi in the final are city rivals Viettel FC, who edged out Than Quang Ninh 2-1 at the Cam Pha Stadium in the other semifinal, thus setting up an exciting Capital Derby clash. With Vietnam national team head coach Park Hang-seo in attendance at the vacant Cam Pha, Viettel had initially took the lead in the 53rd minute thanks to a Bruno Cantanhede penalty. Quang Ninh however equalized in the 87th minute through Nguyen Hai Long, but the Red Tornado refused to give up and in the third minute of injury time, Viettel captain Bui Tien Dung (not to be confused with Tien Dung the Ho Chi Minh City goalkeeper) scored a dramatic winner with an expertly-taken finish to seal Viettel’s spot in the Vietnamese National Cup final, their first appearance in the cup final since 2009 when they were still known as The Cong FC.
With both Hanoi and Viettel sharing a 1-1 draw in the latest edition of the Capital Derby, the upcoming Vietnamese Cup Final will once again showcase the battle between two of Hanoi’s finest teams as well as the battle between the old giants of Vietnamese football in Viettel and the current force of Vietnamese football in Hanoi. With both Van Quyet and Quang Hai on fine form against Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi are the clear favorites for the September 20th final, especially considering that Viettel will be without key players Ho Khac Ngoc and Duong Van Hao, who were both sent-off in the dramatic dying minutes of Viettel’s semifinal clash.