Southeast Asia Vietnam

Nam Dinh Stun Hanoi in VL1 Opener

Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh opened their 2021 V.League 1 campaign in style after thrashing fancied Hanoi FC 3-0 at the Thien Truong Stadium in the league’s opening match on Friday night. Kosovan midfielder Gramoz Kurtaj scored a brace as Nam Dinh ran a strong Hanoi side ragged in the showdown between the two Northern Vietnam sides.

Hanoi, fresh from winning their third-consecutive Vietnamese Super Cup title, started the match off brightly with new signing Bruno Cantanhede heading the ball over Ho Van Tu’s goal after three minutes. Spurred on by their legions of passionate supporters, Nam Dinh went for the offensive in the 14th minute, with Rodrigo Dias’ shot missing the target completely. Seven minutes after Rodrigo’s chance, Nam Dinh stunned Hanoi by taking the lead. Midfielder Hoang Xuan Tan sent a cross into the Hanoi box, where Rodrigo was waiting. The Brazilian, under pressure from Hanoi’s Tran Dinh Trong, attempted a close-ranged effort that was parried away by Hanoi custodian Nguyen Van Cong. Unfortunately for the men in purple, Van Cong was unable to clear the ball far enough and Gramoz was able to snap up the ball easily, before proceeding to tap the ball into the empty net to give Nam Dinh the lead.

Three minutes later the Knights of Thanh Nam doubled their lead, with Rodrigo planting a powerful header past Van Cong from a corner kick. 2-0 Nam Dinh and Hanoi head coach Chu Dinh Nghiem was left speechless as his team were left with a huge mountain to climb in front of them.

Hanoi’s misery were compounded after Do Hung Dung went off injured in the first half and the capital side could only muster another chance just before half-time, with a free-kick from Nguyen Quang Hai being deflected away by Van Tu.

Dinh Nghiem introduced Pham Thanh Luong into the pitch during half-time, a move that sparked Hanoi into life. The men in purple flew out of the traps in the second half with two dangerous chances, with Quang Hai attempting a narrow angled shot that was blocked by Van Tu and Thanh Luong’s attempt being unable to beat the 25-year old goalkeeper.

As their supporters chanted louder and louder, Nam Dinh attempted to hit Hanoi from the counter. New signing Wesley Rodrigues presents himself as a calm presence in the Nam Dinh defense, canceling out chances after chances from Hanoi and allowing Nam Dinh to create their own counterattacks. One such counter saw Van Cong rushing out from his post to deny Gramoz, however the Kosovan managed to pass the ball towards Rodrigo, whose header could only rattle the crossbar.

Hanoi’s fate were sealed in the first minute of injury-time, after Nguyen Hong Son had fouled Mai Xuan Quyet to earn Nam Dinh a free-kick. Rodrigo sent the set-piece straight at Van Cong, however the Hanoi goalkeeper fumbled his clearance and the ball was soon on the ground again. Gramoz seized his chance and smashed home a close-ranged shot that confirmed the three points for Nam Dinh.

The crushing 3-0 win for Nam Dinh marked a memorable return to the dugout for Nguyen Van Sy, who returned as Nam Dinh’s head coach after a brief period away from the team in the 2020 season.

Round 1 of the 2021 V.League 1 season continues on Saturday with three matches. Song Lam Nghe An host newly promoted Topenland Binh Dinh at the Vinh Stadium, while Becamex Binh Duong welcome Dong A Thanh Hoa to the Go Dau Stadium. Last but not least, defending champions Viettel FC takes on another Northern Vietnam side in Hai Phong FC at the Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi.