Hanoi FC have successfully defended their Vietnamese National Cup title after mounting a spirited comeback in the last ten minutes of the final to beat city rivals Viettel FC 2-1 on Sunday night. The latest edition of the Capital Derby was decided by an 88th minute winner from Hanoi’s rising star Nguyen Quang Hai, which earned Hanoi their second consecutive Vietnamese National Cup title while at the same time breaking the hearts of Viettel, who became the competition’s runners-up for a record fourth time.
The battle between two of Vietnam’s most successful teams took place at a sparsely-filled Hang Day Stadium, the home ground of both Hanoi and Viettel. An attendance cap of 3000 people was put in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the stadium being divided into small patches of red and purple, the primary colors of the two teams. The 2020 final was the first final of the Vietnamese National Cup to feature teams from the same city since 2000, when Cang Sai Gon (now Ho Chi Minh City FC) defeated the now defunct Ho Chi Minh City Police FC 2-1 at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
Viettel were without several key players coming into the final – both Ho Khac Ngoc and Duong Van Hao were suspended after receiving red cards in last Wednesday’s semifinal, while Nguyen Trong Hoang was also absent. Caique Lemes was also left out of the starting lineup, having sustained an injury in the semifinal, with the former Chiangmai FC man being named on the bench. Despite this, Viettel’s regular guns in Bruno Cantanhede, captain Bui Tien Dung, Vu Minh Tuan, Nguyen Hoang Duc and Que Ngoc Hai were present as the Red Tornado vie to win their maiden Vietnamese National Cup title. Viettel had previously reached three finals in the competition’s history as their former incarnation The Cong FC, losing all three in 1992, 2004, and 2009.
Eager to defend their cup title were Hanoi, who were still without the services of Rimario Gordon. However, they still have a formidable starting lineup boasting the likes of Quang Hai, captain Nguyen Van Quyet, Do Hung Dung, and Moses Oloya, with Hanoi head coach Chu Dinh Nghiem fielding the same lineup that destroyed Ho Chi Minh City 5-1 in last Wednesday’s semifinal.
The first half was a goalless, evenly-balanced affair, with Hanoi creating a number of chance through Van Quyet, Quang Hai, Hung Dung and Le Tan Tai. Despite missing their key men, Viettel managed to perform well to weather through the Hanoi storm of attacks, with Truong Viet Hoang’s men approaching the match in a cautious manner. Viettel’s defense were tested a few times and both the Viettel defenders and goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh managed to cancel out a number of Hanoi chances. This gave the Red Tornado the momentum they needed to hit Hanoi on the counter, with Viettel carving out a number of chances of their own through Hoang Duc and Minh Tuan.
The second half Viettel kept on pressing as they slowly grew into the game, while at the same time Hanoi were showing signs of struggling as they tried their best to retain their attacking momentum. The likes of Tran Ngoc Son, Minh Tuan, and Bruno began to ask some questions towards the Hanoi defense and finally the men in purple’s backline gave way in the 75th minute. An excellent breakaway by Hoang Duc tore the Hanoi defense open and as he was one-on-one with Hanoi’s veteran goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong, instead of shooting Hoang Duc passed the ball diagonally towards Ngoc Son. Immediately Ngoc Son lashed in a venomous shot that broke the deadlock, giving Viettel the lead.
Being a goal down and with time running out, Dinh Nghiem made the fateful decision to introduce Truong Van Thai Quy into the pitch, replacing Dang Van Toi in the 80th minute. And almost seconds afterwards, Thai Quy drew the scoreline level for Hanoi – Moses played the ball towards Nguyen Thanh Chung, who chested the ball towards Thai Quy. Without any hesitation, the 23-year old smashed in a powerful volley that left Nguyen Manh stranded.
Thai Quy’s equalizer reinvigorated Hanoi’s spirits and two minutes before full-time, the men in purple managed to turn the tie in their favor. And once again Thai Quy had a huge role in Hanoi’s winning goal, turning from scorer to provider as he headed the ball towards the path of Quang Hai, who beat Nguyen Manh with a powerful volley of his own. 2-1 Hanoi and the scoreline stayed that way until the referee blew for full time.
By successfully defending their cup title, Hanoi became the first team since Binh Dinh FC in 2003 and 2004 to win back-to-back editions of the Vietnamese National Cup – interestingly Viettel, back then The Cong, was the opponent that Binh Dinh had beaten in the final to clinch their 2004 title. The cup triumph also assured Hanoi participation in continental competitions next season – should they fail to win the 2020 V.League 1 and they passed the licensing requirements set by the AFC, Hanoi are assured of a spot in the 2021 AFC Cup group stage.
As for Viettel, Sunday’s defeat meant that they’ve lost their fourth Vietnamese National Cup final, more than any other team.