FLYING START: Thanh Hóa (yellow jersey) vs Hải Phòng in the V.League 1 yesterday. Thanh Hóa lost thanks to a late wonder goal from Joseph Mpande. Photo baothanhhoa.vn
HÀ NỘI A beautiful long-range strike by Joseph Mpande was all Hải Phòng needed to beat Thanh Hóa in the V.League 1’s season-opening schedule yesterday.
But sadly for Mpande, the match was played behind closed-doors to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 so there were no fans there to see his wonder goal.
This year, the team from the northern port city of Hải Phòng isn’t considered stronger than their opponents, so this victory will taste sweet for the visitors.
Even their coach Phạm Anh Tuấn has said his team have not improved on last season, and there preparations to the season were slow compared to Thanh Hóa.
Hải Phòng were cagey from the off, happy to slow the tempo of the game at the Thanh Hóa Stadium and play at their own pace.
Hoàng Vũ Samson had the best chance of the first half, but his delicate free-kick from the edge of the box clipped the cross bar before Hoàng Vissa gathered the rebound in the home team goal.
After the break the match opened up, with chances falling to both teams.
Hải Phòng’s Andre Diego Fagan had a good chance after he was played through on goal, while Lê Văn Thắng beat keeper Văn Toản only to be denied by the woodwork.
As the clocked ticked, it looked more and more likely this first game of the season would end goalless. But with 83 minutes go, Mpande controlled well outside the box and let fly a thunderous 25 year effort giving the keeper no chance.
In the other matches yesterday, Bình Dương beat Đà Nẵng 1-0, Viettel won Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh 1-0 and Sông Lam Nghệ An drew goalless with Sài Gòn.
On Saturday, defending champions Hà Nội FC crushed Nam Định 4-2.
Nam Định coach Nguyễn Văn Sỹ said that his team lost to the capital team because they did not have the right mind set to take on the champions.
He also said playing in an empty stadium reduced the atmosphere of the game.
“Because the match was played without a crown, the excitement of the players was greatly reduced. However, the health of everyone must be number one priority and our players need to adapt to this,” said Sỹ.
“We play with excitement when the audience cheers. Moreover, this was the first match so the players were not at their best.
“Of course, I wasn’t happy with the result, but this was not a big deal. Hà Nội have quality footballers, but obviously, our players’ minds were not really stable.” VNS