Analysis: Binh Duong adapt to the elements, but Hanoi edge the tie at Thu Dau Mot
Thu Dau Mot City: Visitors Hanoi FC came out on top of a wet and wild clash in southern Vietnam as Becamex Binh Duong were defeated 1-0 in Wednesday's 2019 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Final first leg ahead of the return meeting on August 7.
Despite being away from home, and struggling to put together their passing combinations in soggy conditions at Binh Duong Stadium, Hanoi FC put one foot into the Inter-Zone Semi-finals after Nguyen Van Quyet's first half strike proved to be the match's only goal.
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Weathering the weather
Torrential rain made the going tough but home side Binh Duong were first to switch up their game plan.
The sodden turf proved unfriendly to a passing game with Binh Duong (69%) and Hanoi (67%) registering some of their worst numbers in passing accuracy at the 2019 AFC Cup.
Binh Duong responded by going long and trying to capitalise on the height of 6'1' forward Wander Luiz inside the penalty area (heatmap below).
The hosts put 44 balls into the box (more than any match so far in their campaign) compared to Hanoi's 29, but the visitors did a good job in defending the danger, winning more aerials (26 to Binh Duong's 22) and clearing the ball 35 times - by some margin their highest number of clearances.
Indeed, not only did Hanoi put in a solid stint at the back, they also by far had the greater attacking edge. Indeed, Binh Duong are arguably fortunate to be only a goal down going into August 7's second leg.
For all their direct play - that resulted in 12 shots on goal - they only mustered one shot on target. By contrast, Hanoi saw seven of their 13 efforts on goal on target with Nguyen Quang Hai, Pape Omar Faye and Van Quyet all having multiple strikes denied by Becamex custodian Tran Duc Cuong.
Faye, in particular, will feel particularly aggrieved at not getting on target. The Sengalese striker slipped at the crucial moment in the first half when he should have opened the scoring and on the 70th minute hit the post from close range, when he had looked odds on to double Hanoi's advantage.
Tran Duc Cuong keeps Binh Duong alive
While Binh Duong's forward line was spluttering, the same cannot be said about custodian Tran Duc Cuong who put in a impressive performance between the posts.
Particularly in the first half, when Hanoi threatened to run riot, Duc Cuong made save after save with the highlight a stunning double-stop from Faye and Quang Hai on 24 minutes.
With a bit more luck, he would have kept a clean sheet - saving Van Quyet's spot-kick only for the ball to squirm back to the Hanoi captain to fire home.
Nevertheless, should Duc Cuong replicate his heroics in Hanoi then, with a little more support from his attackers, the stage is set for a intriguing climax to the ASEAN Zone.
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