Hoang Anh Gia Lai suffered their first home defeat of the 2020 V.League 1 season in some emphatic fashion as defending V.League 1 champions Hanoi FC blasted four goals past them without reply on Thursday evening’s Round 15 action at the Pleiku Stadium. Hanoi’s Bui Hoang Viet Anh scored a brace as his team won their second consecutive championship group match – a result that places Hanoi only two points behind city rivals and league leaders Viettel FC – while HAGL were left to rue their second successive championship group defeat.
HAGL came into Thursday’s match without two of their key players, with both defender Damir Memovic and goalkeeper Tran Buu Ngoc serving suspensions for this match. Despite this, HAGL started off the match quite brightly – a Chevaughn Walsh volley early in the game forced Hanoi’s veteran goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong into making a save, while shortly afterwards in the 20th minute HAGL had a goal chalked off due to offside. But from there Hanoi began to grew their influence into the game – in the 22th minute Do Hung Dung’s long-ranged effort was tipped over the bar by HAGL’s stand-in goalie Le Van Truong, which prompted the referee to award Hanoi a corner. And it was from this corner that Hanoi broke the deadlock, after Viet Anh managed to out-jump his marker Nguyen Phong Hong Duy to stab the ball into Van Truong’s net with a precise header.
Now a goal up, Hanoi repeatedly exploited a number of mistakes made by HAGL’s players as the capital side tried their best to extend their lead. Both Truong Trong Sang and A Hoang were having off-days, while Vu Van Thanh and Dung Quang Nho were underperforming as well. This meant that Hanoi were able to carve out a number of dangerous chances after they had taken the lead, such as a header from Nguyen Quang Hai that went off-target in the 37th minute.
HAGL almost leveled things up as the first half draws to a close, with Walsh firing an effort from range in the 42nd minute. Unfortunately for both Walsh and the men from Pleiku, the Jamaican’s shot went agonizingly wide.
During the interval, HAGL decided to throw veteran striker Nguyen Anh Duc into the mix in an attempt to bolster their attacking options, with the 34-year old former Becamex Binh Duong talisman coming on for Van Thanh. Interestingly enough, this meant that Anh Duc will be taking on former teammate Tan Truong in the Hanoi goal, the first time that these two had faced off against one another since 2013.
Controversy broke out in the 51st minute after Quang Nho fell within the Hanoi box, which would normally meant that HAGL would have a chance to level things up with a penalty. However, much to the dismay of the HAGL players, the referee refused to award the home side their penalty, even booking Quang Nho for allegedly diving.
Hanoi kept going forward in search of that all-important second goal to kill the game off and it took them until the 71st minute to find the breakthrough that they need. Substitute Truong Van Thai Quy managed to intercept a headed pass from Quang Nho before playing the ball towards Rimario Gordon. Rimario passed it short towards Thai Quy, who made his way into the HAGL penalty box before passing the ball once again to Rimario, who managed to beat an onrushing Van Truong with a well-taken shot that went straight for the bottom left corner.
Now two goals down, HAGL immediately tried their best to reduce the deficit, with Walsh rifling in a volley that struck the crossbar in the 76th minute while in the 79th minute Luong Xuan Truong found his free-kick being tipped over the bar by Tan Truong. But instead of pulling one back, HAGL found themselves three goals behind in the 89th minute. After Rimario had rattled the advertising boards with his powerful shots only minutes prior, Hung Dung attempted to test Van Truong once again with a powerful curling shot. Van Truong managed to deflect the shot away with his palm, however the ball found itself being slammed into the HAGL goal by Viet Anh, who was waiting for the rebound and was rewarded for his patience with his second goal of the game.
Substitute Pape Omar Faye then compounded a miserable evening for HAGL with Hanoi’s fourth goal of the game, capping off a pass from captain Nguyen Van Quyet with a low shot that was deflected into the net by the right goalpost.
The 4-0 victory ensured that Hanoi would move into 3rd place with the three points, only two points off league leaders Viettel and only one point off 2nd placed Sai Gon FC. HAGL, on the other hand, remained in 7th place, one point above Hong Linh Ha Tinh who drew their Thursday game 1-1 with 4th placed Than Quang Ninh.
Thursday’s Round 15 action also saw two relegation group games being played out, with Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh downing SHB Da Nang 1-0 at a waterlogged Thien Truong Stadium, while Thanh Hoa FC’s 2-1 home win over last-placed Quang Nam FC pushed 2017 V.League 1 champions Quang Nam even closer to the brink of relegation.
Round 15 continues on Friday with the last relegation group match between Song Lam Nghe An and Hai Phong FC at the Vinh Stadium.