Hanoi FC beat AFC Champions League title defender

By Duc Dong   December 6, 2023 | 03:21 pm PT
Hanoi FC beat AFC Champions League title defender
Striker Pham Tuan Hai celebrates after scoring for Hanoi FC against Urawa Red Diamonds in AFC Champions League in Hanoi on Dec. 6, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Hanoi FC defeated Japanese club Urawa Red Diamonds 2-1 in the last fixture of group J on Wednesday night and ended their chance of defending the AFC Champions League title.

Since Hanoi were already eliminated from the AFC Champions League (ACL), the capital club fielded a lineup without many key players like Do Hung Dung and Pham Tuan Hai, but still put on the foreign trio Brandon Wilson, Anthony Le Tallec and Joel Tagueu.

Meanwhile, Urawa could no longer compete for the top spot of group J with South Korea’s Pohang Steelers, so they needed a big win to keep their hope of advancing as one of the six best second-placed teams. They used the strongest lineup for this game and attacked right from the start to seek an early goal. In the first leg, Urawa thrashed Hanoi 6-0 at home.

Urawa had a chance to open the scoring in the fifth minute when defender Dao Van Nam let the ball hit his arm inside the box. The referee took three minutes to review the play on VAR before giving the penalty to Urawa. On the spot, striker Alexander Scholz kicked it to the right but goalkeeper Nguyen Van Hoang made a great save. The referee checked the penalty on VAR to see if Hoang moved out of the line, but he did not.

Hoang joined Hanoi earlier this season. Before this game, he has not played a single minute for the club as Quan Van Chuan and Bui Tan Truong were the first and second goalkeeper choices.

In addition to the penalty save, the 28-year-old goalkeeper also had excellent reflexes to save Hanoi from many shots in the first half. His performance was the only positive point for Hanoi, as they were completely outmatched by the defending champions.

Hanoi FC goalkeeper Nguyen Huy Hoang had an excellent game. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Hanoi FC goalkeeper Nguyen Huy Hoang in an AFC Champions League game against Urawa Red Diamonds in Hanoi, Dec. 6, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

In the second half, Hanoi put on a completely different face. They switched from defensive football to attacking. Their effort paid off in the 53rd minute. From a corner, Le Tallec got a header and goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa punched it out, but Van Nam was there to get another header and opened the scoring for Hanoi.

Urawa, with nothing to lose, put immense pressure on Hanoi in hope of a comeback. The Japanese club put many attackers on and found the equalizer in the 64th minute with a goal by Bryan Linssen.

However, Hanoi crushed Urawa’s hope of getting past the group stage, as they wanted to leave the tournament with a win. The capital club subbed in several key players to increase their attacking power. In the 83rd minute, Nguyen Hai Long was fouled inside the box and the referee gave Hanoi a penalty. He then checked the play on VAR, but did not change his decision. On the spot, Pham Tuan Hai buried it into the right corner to secure the 2-1 win for Hanoi.

The win helped Hanoi end their run in the ACL with the third position in their group, while Urawa were eliminated.

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