HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội FC made it two wins from their last two on Thursday night against Thanh Hóa, with a 3-2 win going some way to dispelling concerns about their early season struggles.
The country’s most successful team in recent years had started the season in January in an abysmal form with two losses, but the COVID-19 pandemic-imposed mid-season break seems to have done wonders for them with wins over Hải Phòng and now Thanh Hóa since football restarted earlier this month.
|Bruno Cunha celebrates one of his goals against Thanh Hóa. — Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
The home side came out of the traps flying at Hàng Đẫy Stadium and within six minutes were leading 2-0.
Three minutes in Thanh Hóa goalkeeper Nguyễn Thanh Điệp spilled Nguyễn Văn Quyết’s tame shot straight into Ngân Văn Đại’s path, and the forward made no mistake from point-blank range for his second goal in two games.
A mere three minutes later the lead was doubled as Brazilian forward Bruno Caunha lashed in his first goal for Hà Nội when Đỗ Hùng Dũng laid the ball off after a goalmouth scramble.
Rather than let their heads drop Thanh Hóa dug deep and played some good football which was rewarded with a goal in the 35th minute, veteran striker and captain Hoàng Vũ Samson prodding home from a yard out after Hà Nội made of mess of defending a corner.
Curiously, Thanh Hóa coach Ljupko Petrovic substituted Gramoz Kurtaj at half-time, despite the midfielder putting in a composed performance.
Nevertheless, Petrovic’s men could have equalised in the 53rd minute when Nguyễn Văn Vinh got on the end of a free-kick on the edge of the six-yard box, but the defender’s header went just wide.
Hà Nội punished the away side’s profligacy 10 minutes later when Cunha netted his second by heading home Trần Văn Kiên’s deep cross from the right at the back post.
Thanh Hóa kept fighting right until the end and pulled another goal back in the 90th minute through Hoàng Đình Tùng, however it was too little too late and Hà Nội held on to secure all three points.
While the visitors and their vocal support will feel unlucky not to have come away with something from the game, Hà Nội showed part of why they’ve been so formidable in recent years, as despite failing to hit top gear they ground out three points.
In Thursday’s other match, Sông Lam Nghệ An defeated Quảng Ninh 1-0. On Friday evening, Bình Định take on SHB Đà Nẵng, Nam Định face champions Viettel and HCM City FC face local rivals Sài Gòn FC.
On Saturday, Becamex Bình Dương face Hải Phòng while Hà Tĩnh face Hoàng Anh Gia Lai.— VNS