Nam Định 3-1 Sài Gòn
Having narrowly avoided the drop last year, Nam Định got their V.League 2018 campaign off to a flyer in front of 13,000 fans at the Thiên Trường Stadium. After a goalless first half Nam Định dominated the early stages of the restart, taking the lead through a Diogo penalty before Trần Mạnh Cường cured in a wonderful effort form 25 yards. On a terrible pitch the visitors managed to pull one back on 86’ when Thiago scored a debut goal, latching on to an excellent reverse through ball by Da Sylva. An injury time own goal from Xuan Toan sealed the victory for Nguyễn Văn Sỹ’s Nam Dinh.
Nam Định picked up Patiyo & Le Van Phu pre-season, with Amougou still on the sidelines, and these experienced players may just be what the side were missing last season when they only secured their V.League 1 status via a play-off.
Hà Nội 5-0 Quảng Ninh
Reigning Champions Hà Nội thrashed Quảng Ninh on the opening day of the season at the Hàng Đẫy stadium.
The visitors started incredibly well, playing a fast, pressing game and not allowing Hà Nội anytime on the ball. Mạc Hồng Quân, Nghiêm Xuân Tú and Sydney Rivera were linking up well, with the home defence clearly rattled with the tempo of the early stages.
The visitors, so impressive for the first 25 minutes, strangely began to sit back and it was to be their undoing. Hà Nội’s beautiful passing game we saw so effective in the first half in China last week was back and the partnership up top between Omar and Samson is showing early signs of brilliance.
Omar opened the scoring with a neat one-two with Samson, before Nguyễn Văn Quyết double the lead after a weak clearance from visiting keeper Huỳnh Tuấn Linh . Three goals in the last 12 minutes condemned Quảng Ninh to their biggest league defeat since returning to the top flight 5 years ago. Man of the match, Đỗ Hùng Dũng, tapped home Phạm Thành Lương’s cutback on 78’, before a Samson penalty and Oseni header sealed a comfortable win.
Đà Nẵng 3-1 Viettel
It was a nightmare return to the top flight for Viettel as they succumbed to a comfortable defeat at Đà Nẵng. Viettel (Thể Công), Vietnam’s most successful club, are back in the top flight for the first time since 2009 and have strengthened an exciting squad with National team captain, Quế Ngọc Hải and a full compliment of foreign players; Kayo, Paulo and Gustavo.
However, it was terrible start for new Korean manger Lee Heung-Sil as he saw his side concede early through Nirrenold, before it went from bad to worse when captain Quế Ngọc Hải was sent off for handling in the area and picking up a second yellow. Merlo, in his 10th v.League campaign, converted the penalty before linking up well with Schmitt to send the home side in 3-0 up at the break. Brazilian striker, Paulo, grabbed a last minute consolation but the plaudits firmly lie with the home side and what was ruthless first half attacking display and more evidence that Merlo isn’t done yet.
Elsewhere, Lê Hoàng Thiên hit a 94th minute for HCMC FC as they snatched all three points against Hải Phòng, while SLNA saw off Quảng Nam 2-0 in Vinh thanks to an incredible 25 yard effort from Olaha and an OG by Đinh Viết Tú.
HAGL moved on from losing star striker, Nguyễn Công Phượng, by hitting Khánh Hòa for four in Nha Trang. Trần Minh Vương opened the scoring after just 2 minutes. The visitors had to wait until the second half to find the net again, this time through Hồng Duy. Debutant Jamaican striker, Chevy Walsh, then hit an impressive brace before Trùm Tỉnh hit a stoppage time consolation.
On Thursday evening Thanh Hóa and Bình Dương played out a 1-1 draw. Rimario gave the home side the lead before another V,League debutant, Mansaray, equalized.