Analysis: Hanoi show class at both ends to advance
Hanoi: Hanoi FC were crowned the 2019 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions on Wednesday after a 1-0 victory over Vietnam rivals Becamex Binh Duong saw them progress to the Inter-Zone semi-finals 2-0 on aggregate.
But while a league win sandwiched in between the two Continental games made it three victories in eight days over Binh Duong and suggests a comfortable passage to the next round, the capital city side did not have it all their own way.
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Defence deserving of praise
Twenty-six goals in eight games leading up to the first leg meant Hanoi went into the ASEAN Zonal Final as the tournament’s top scorers, averaging more than three goals a game. At the same time they had managed just two clean sheets.
However, when it mattered most, they remained firm at the back, first, in wet conditions in Thu Dau Mot City and, then, at Hang Day Stadium where conceding could have made life very difficult.
Nobody embodied their determination to keep the opposition out more than Nguyen Thanh Chung, who got back just in time to acrobatically clear Pedro’s goal-bound effort off the line just before the hour.
The 21-year-old defender made a total of four clearances and was on hand to snuff out any danger throughout the 90 minutes and, while Hanoi’s exciting frontline has rightly earned many plaudits, 180 minutes without conceding ensures Thanh Chung and co. deserve their fair share too.
Lack of cutting edge
While Binh Duong almost matched Hanoi in terms of chances created (9-10), clear-cut opportunities were few and far between, with the aforementioned Pedro’s attempt by far the closest they came.
In right midfielder To Van Vu, the southern Vietnam team have a player who can deliver quality with both feet from wide and time and again the 25-year-old did just that but found no one on the end of his crosses (shown below).
Pedro was, admittedly, unlucky with his effort from Van Vu’s cross from deep, although Kyrgyz Republic defender Veniamin Shumeyko made a mess of another when afforded acres of space in the centre of the penalty area.
Seven crosses were three more than anyone else on the pitch and, after captain Nguyen Anh Duc later rued a missed chance from Wander Luiz from another Van Vu delivery, it’s fair to say Binh Duong did not make the most of the midfielder’s good work.
Quang Hai's class
It’s hard to talk about Vietnamese football these days without mentioning the hugely talented Nguyen Quang Hai, who was yet again at the heart of much of Hanoi’s good play.
The midfielder, who tends to start on the left but has licence to roam, was in the mood on Wednesday with his six attempts on goal (above) more than anyone else on the pitch.
Three times he was denied by goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong, while he showed the sleight of foot he’s renowned for in creating the shooting opportunity for his final attempt in stoppage time.
The 22-year-old’s corner also led to the only goal of the game, although he was unluckily denied an assist due to Tan Truong and Thanh Chung both getting a touch on the ball on the way through.
Next up is Turkmenistan's Altyn Asyr in the Inter-Zone semi-finals and if Hanoi are to progress even deeper into the competition, Quang Hai is sure to be key.
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