|Tussle: Tran Chi Cong of Dong Tam Long An (right) vies for a ball with Le Hoang Thien of Hoang Anh Gia Lai in a match that saw Dong Tam Long An win 2-1. — VNS Photo Quang Nhut
HA NOI (VNS) — Dong Tam Long An found a way to stop ‘express' Hoang Anh Gia Lai in a Toyota V. League 1 game on their home turf of Tan An Stadium yesterday.
The host team beat the national phenomenon 2-1 in the second round match before more than 11,000 home fans and the national team manager Toshyia Miura.
Dong Tam Long An's coach Ngo Quang Sang's tactics successfully ensured that all young strikers of Hoang Anh Gia Lai were under pressure throughout the match.
Famed players Nguyen Cong Phuong, Nguyen Tuan Anh and team captain Luong Xuan Truong were carefully blocked and left with no room to play.
Also, experienced players of the host team worked hard and found the net in the 22nd minute.
Rafael Dos Santos Lima ran along the right wing and passed the ball perfectly to the penalty area, where midfielder Tran Chi Cong headed it strongly to goalkeeper Pham Van Tien's right corner.
It was 2-0 for the hosts in the second half when substitute Nguyen Thanh Hai was brought to the field. The striker needed some 20 minutes to warm up before he scored his first goal of the tournament.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai played significantly better in this half, creating many more opportunities. The young players tried to score with long-distance shoots and passed the ball frequently to Swedish striker Darko Lukanovic, the only player who could find a way to break through Dong Tam Long An's strong defence.
However, this was the day of goalkeeper Nguyen Huynh Quoc Cuong, who successfully guarded his net.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai narrowed the score in the 75th minute of the match when Cuong made his only mistake in the entire game.
After several targeted shots were blocked, Lukanovic aimed a low kick to Cuong's left corner. It looked like an easy save for Cuong, who positioned himself at the right spot and was ready to block the ball, But he it slipped through, traveling straight into the net.
"Hoang Anh Gia Lai was faced with two disadvantages — hot weather and an unfamiliar grass field much different from their home turf. The young players trained at the field only once before the match and they could not overcome these challenges. Also, while their rivals were experienced and had played in the V. League for years, this was Hoang Anh Gia Lai's second game of the tournament," sports journalist Dinh Khai remarked.
" Dong Tam Long An won thanks to their ‘hero' goalkeeper Cuong. Without him, the hosts might have not seen victory today," Khai added.
This first win pushed Dong Tam Long An to the third place of the ranking table, with four points after two games, while Hoang Anh Gia Lai are at fifth position and will return home to play Thanh Hoa next round.
In addition, their home stadium has been equipped with a new large screen to serve the demands of local fans.
Last week, Hoang Anh Gia Lai were fined VND10 million (US$470) when organisers of the match let many fans watching the game on the field.
Yesterday, SHB Da Nang, one of the strongest teams, suffered their second loss. Playing at home, the former champions were defeated 1-2 by Song Lam Nghe An, also former winners.
Da Nang now rank second to last in the rankings, their worst result in their history.
Song Lam Nghe An enjoyed their first win and are now more confident about hosting Dong Tam Long An next week.
First runner-up last year, Ha Noi T&T, also bagged their first win after an unexpected draw last week.
The Hanoian team beat Quang Ninh Coal 1-0, even though they played an away game, on Saturday.
Defending champions Becamex Binh Duong proved their power with their second win, beating Quang Nam 4-2.
Hai Phong were another team that grabbed all six points after two matches, as they crushed Thanh Hoa 2-0 at home yesterday.
Elsewhere, Dong Thap drew Can Tho 1-1, and Sanna Khanh Hoa defeated Dong Nai 2-1. — VNS