AFC Cup action was on the bill again this week as Hà Nội T&T welcomed Malaysia’s Selangor FC to the Hang Day Stadium. The game, as with other AFC Cup fixtures, kicked off at the rather annoying and crowd depleting time of 5pm. I managed to cross the city in barely 20 minutes, and was welcomed by crowded streets around the stadium. A big crowd perhaps; had the lure of free entrance to the terraces of ‘stand B’ delivered it’s goal and persuaded the Hanoians from their domestic football slumber?
No. With rain in the air, I made for the relative dryness of the main stand. The few who also opted to pay the 50,000 VND we’re huddled in the back rows. The majority of those in attendance had in fact migrated to the ‘free seats’ (well, terrace) opposite. From where I was sat, it made a nice alternative to the empty fading blue steps. Those looking at the main stand now had that pleasure. Coincidentally, the TV cameras face the busier stand.
Hà Nội made their intentions clear for the match, with an attacking line up including Gonzalo, Samson and Văn Quyết. After just 3 minutes, Samson raced clear but saw his effort go narrowly wide. 20 minutes later and it was Samson again who came close to breaking the deadlock, seeing his header come crashing back off the bar. T&T’s midfield trio of Sy Cuong, Van Hieu and Ngoc Duy were dominating midfield, restricting their Malaysian counterparts to the occasional counter attack.
The home side finally broke the deadlock, 9 minutes after the restart as Samson delivered a perfect cross for Văn Quyết, who sublimely volleyed beyond visiting keeper’ Marlias. The goal woke the visitors, who pushed forward in search of an equaliser. T&T’s ‘AFC Cup Keeper’ Van Cuong pulled off a great save to deny Raduwan, while the central paring of Van Bien and Gallagher were having fine games.
Samson, with 9 minutes remaining, could have doubled the lead but saw his header come back of the post, and his follow-up go agonizingly over the bar.
At the end of a rather bleak night in the capital, T&T were again impressive, Hà Nội remain on top of Group F on maximum points. Nguyễn Văn Quyết was the difference once again for Vietnamese side, as he netted his 5th goal of the tournament.
It’s back to V League action for T&T, as the champions travel to inform, newly promoted, Quang Ninh on Sunday 23rd March.
Hà Nội T&T 1 v 0 Selangor
Văn Quyết 54′ att. 3,000