In the last game of group F, Hanoi FC faced Singaporean side Tampines Rovers in a game considered the final of the group.
A victory would see Hanoi FC take the top spot and go into the semifinals, while Tampines Rovers only needed a draw to proceed.
Anything less than a win would put Hanoi FC in a tricky situation where they will have to wait for other games to see if they ended up among the best second-placed teams.
The Hanoi club’s determination was evident from the start. Using its home ground advantage well, they dominated the game and got what they needed most – an early goal. In the 10th minute, Doan Van Hau provided a great assist for Ganiyu Oseni to tap one in for Hanoi FC.
After the goal, Hanoi played with greater comfort, creating many chances. One of these became the second goal as Nguyen Thanh Chung scored from a header just 20 minutes after the first.
Hanoi FC – Tampines Rovers
In the second half, Hanoi gained a greater advantage after Tampines Rovers got a red card penalty, but no more goals were scored. They ended the group stage with 13 points, the same as Tampines Rovers, but had the head-to-head advantage.
Another Vietnamese club, Becamex Binh Duong FC were in a similar situation, having to win to nourish their hope of advancing, because only a victory would get them a spot among best second-placed teams.
Binh Duong’s opponent, Philippines side Ceres Negros, had already advanced with the top spot at 14 points. Ceres Negros didn’t let Binh Duong have an easy match of it, playing at home ground.
Binh Duong had a chance to get the scoreboard ticking right at the seventh minute. However, from the penalty spot, Nguyen Anh Duc couldn’t score. After that, two sides continued to deploy attacks but no goals came.
In the second half, striker Wander Luiz had a one-on-one with Ceres Negros keeper int the 46th minute, but his shot went over the bar. Luiz managed to get the ball into the net with a header six minutes later, but the goal was ruled offside by the referee.
The precious goal came to Binh Duong in the 88th minute when Wander Luiz intercepted the ball and noticed that Ceres Negros goalkeeper was pretty far from the goal. He chipped the fall from a long distance to help his club win the game 1-0.
Becamex Binh Duong – Ceres Negros
The three points helped Binh Duong advance to the next round with 13 points and a goal difference of +8, making them the best second-placed team among three groups at the AFC Cup. Tampines Rovers, Hanoi FC’s opponent were eliminated. They had 13 points like Binh Duong but only a goal difference of +7.
This is the first time that two Vietnamese clubs have made it to the semifinals of the AFC Cup.
In the semifinals, Hanoi FC will face Cegres Negros while Becamex Binh Duong FC will clash with Indonesian side PSM Makassar. Two winners will meet in the final where the regional champion will be decided. Then the ASEAN zone champion will proceed to play in the West Asia zone championship for the ultimate title.
The first leg of AFC Cup semifinals will be played June 18 and 19, and the second leg a week after.
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