Football is a wonderful sport. It never fails to amaze me and I don’t think I will ever tire of watching it, no matter what level it’s at. In Vietnam this weekend, there were results that I wouldn’t have predicted in my wildest dreams and there were some that were always going to happen. Nam Dinh got a surprise win away at Song Lam Nghe An and it’s there that we’ll begin. Also, Binh Duong made home advantage count against Quang Nam. There’s that and much more!  

What we’ll do is look at Friday’s action first then Saturday and then guess what? Sunday!

Going into the game, Nam Dinh were on a five-game losing streak and they were given little chance of getting a result against SLNA by a lot of people, myself included.

Nam Dinh Won With A Wonderful Free Kick

When SLNA missed with a header by inches early on it seemed like it was going to be another ‘standard’ day at the office for Nam Dinh, however, that woke them up as they had an effort cleared off the line and Henry bottled a one-on-one when he really should have done better.

Apart from that header, SLNA’s only other chance of note in the first-half came when a long-drive cannoned off the bar then went away.

It only took one goal to separate the sides in the end, boy oh boy was it worth the wait. Le Sy Manh stood over a free-kick from roughly twenty-five yards out. It was never going to go in. Not a chance. GOAL! He put it in the one place where the keeper had no chance as it went over the wall into the top corner. Take a bow, Le Sy Manh.   

Completely out of character, Nam Dinh just shut up shop for the rest of the game and did an incredibly good job of doing so as SLNA looked lost of ideas. A very good win for Nam Dinh which will give them hope moving forward for the rest of the season.

Final score: SLNA 0-1 Nam Dinh.

Friday’s other game saw another side in desperate need of a win. I am, of course, referring to Sai Gon, who, after getting a valuable point away at Ha Noi in the league, got pasted against the same side in the cup.

FLC Thanh Hoa were the hosts and it was obvious that they fancied a bit of self-harming as the penalty they gave away on the twenty-five-minute mark was comedy of the highest order. The ball went high into the air, Thanh Hoa’s defender tried to head it clear, misjudged the ball completely, it bounced up and hit his arm. Penalty.

Da Sylva Scored With A Penalty

Dominique Da Sylva made no mistake from twelve yards out as the keeper guessed the right way but the preciseness of the penalty meant that Sai Gon had something to hold on to. You’ll recall the same thing happened against Ha Noi and they chucked the lead away there…

After Sai Gon took the lead, they thought it would be best to sit back and invite pressure from Thanh Hoa which is not a sensible thing to do. Reason being for this, Sai Gon are awful at defending. Guess what happened next? Yep. FLC Thanh Hoa equalised via the head of Hoang Dinh Tung as the defence just sort of stood and watched. Shambles.

Da Sylva Missed With A Penalty

As the story goes, Sai Gon got awarded another spot-kick for another handball. What are the chances? Dominique Da Sylva had the chance to probably win the game, He went left, the same way he went in the first-half. So did the keeper. SAVED. Thanh Hoa were the first to react after the save, the ball was cleared and the keeper was mobbed.

Only half-chances were on offer after that which meant Sai Gon came away with another point from another daunting away game. Saying that, considering they fluffed a penalty, it should really be viewed as two points dropped as opposed to a point gained.

Final score: FLC Thanh Hoa 1-1 Sai Gon.

Saturday saw the first of two games that I attended over the weekend as I ventured over to Thu Dau Mot for the second weekend on the bounce to watch Becamex Binh Duong host reigning champions Quang Nam. Before we come on to that, we’ve got arguably the game of the weekend to look at.

A resurgent Hai Phong played a Da Nang side who had a good result of their own last time out. Just after the midway point of the first-half, Hai Phong took the lead.

Errol Stevens received the ball onto his chest with his back to goal; he then held off the defender, swivelled and put it beyond the static goalkeeper. 1-0 to Hai Phong (make sure you keep track).   

Could Hai Phong Keep Up Their Good Form?

Eight minutes later, Hai Phong effectively ended it as a contest. Or so the naked eye would have you believe. A wicked delivery was sent into the box, Errol Stevens knocked it down and there was the onrushing Nguyen Dinh Bao to put it beyond the keeper.

You have to really question why the defence were so stationary when Stevens knocked it down. Either way, it was now 2-0. For the record, it stayed that way until the interval.

At the beginning of the second period, it looked like Hai Phong were going to extend their lead rather than Da Nang getting back into the game. Then, seven minutes in, Da Nang were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box.

Vo Huy Toan struck the ball and it came off the top of the ball and that was going to be the end of it. Well, that was until it looped off the wall, over the keeper’s head and in. 2-1 to Hai Phong.

There were no more goals in normal time. Game of the weekend my arse. Let’s not be hasty. In the first of four additional minutes, Da Nang drew level as the indecisiveness of Hai Phong’s keeper cost them dearly.

Ha Duc Chinh got to a knockdown first as Hai Phong’s keeper went to go for the ball and changed his mind. 2-2.

Only Just!

When the clock read 94:05, Da Nang had a throw-in in their own half and that was probably going to be the end of that. A series of events happened next that was unimaginable.

In turn, Hai Phong won a throw-in, it was thrown down the left and a determined Andre Fagan put the ball into the box. Doan Ngoc Tan met the ball and finished with aplomb. 3-2 to Hai Phong!

I’m not sure what made me happier, the scenes of pure jubilation after the goal or seeing Hai Phong’s yellow kit again. You may end up getting tired of me referring to Hai Phong’s yellow kit over the course of the season, I can’t help it. It’s gorgeous.

Final score: Hai Phong 3-2 Da Nang.

I’m developing a soft spot for Becamex Binh Duong. Ho Chi Minh, Sai Gon and Becamex are the three local teams to me and for whatever the reason, my natural affection is more drawn towards Binh Duong.

After watching them on Saturday, my love has only grown for them. Romario Kortzorg led the line fantastically well and despite his name, he’s actually Dutch. He was named after the great Brazilian due to his father’s adoration for the iconic forward.

Romario played much like a Brazilian, namely Adriano, as he led his team from the front and displayed an admirable work ethic throughout. I may well have a new favourite player.

Romario Roasted Quang Nam’s Defence

It was Romario’s aforementioned determination that inadvertently gave Binh Duong the lead. The former Dinamo Bucharest forward won a free-kick on the left after holding the ball up well. From the resulting free-kick, Dinh Hoang Max flicked it beyond the keeper at the near post. For the second week on the bounce, Binh Duong were ahead early doors.

For all of their domination, Binh Duong couldn’t extend their lead before the break. Quang Nam didn’t offer much going forward, with the score at 1-0, it’s anyone’s game moving forward.  

Eleven minutes into the second-half, Binh Duong did manage to make it 2-0 as Ho Sy Giap sprung Quang Nam’s lousy offside trap and beat the keeper at the second attempt. 2-0 to the good guys.

A shoddy clearance or rather a lack of clearance gave Quang Nam a way back in. Claudecir reacted quickest to Binh Duong’s sloppiness as he made it 2-1. It was a goal they scarcely deserved. Nevertheless, it was game on.

Quang Nam started to have more of the ball as Binh Duong began to sit back. One of the good things about them sitting back is that Romario can crucify them on the counter-attack.

Binh Duong Thoroughly Deserved To Win

With six minutes left, that’s exactly what he did as he picked the ball up on the left, sped past two defenders and put the ball into no-man’s land. Thiago Papel, in Quang Nam’s defence, came to meet the ball. So did the keeper. Thiago headed over the keeper and it was 3-1. Game over.

Defending champions Quang Nam were made to look stupid at times by Binh Duong and if they keep this up, there’s no reason why they can’t go right to the top.

Final score: Becamex Binh Duong 3-1 Quang Nam.

We’re now on Sunday. What a set of games we’ve had so far! Thong Nhat Stadium was my location in the evening as Ho Chi Minh City hosted table-topping Ha Noi. We’ll close on that. Before we arrive at Ho Chi Minh’s clash, we’ve got two one-all draws to cover. Beginning at Can Tho vs Than Quang Ninh.  

Patiyo Tambwe gave the home side the lead after he met a telling cross into the box with a firm header which left the keeper with no chance. It was an incisive breakaway which considering the opening pattern of play resulted in a deserved lead for Can Tho.

A Red Card Effectively Ended The Game

Sadly, from a neutral perspective, there were no more goals during the opening exchanges as we entered half-time with Can Tho still having a narrow lead.  That lead was destroyed fourteen minutes after the interval.

Joel rose highest and completely unattended from a Than Quang Ninh corner to level for the side who were considered odds-on favourites for this by the bookies.

Once Nguyen Thanh Hien picked up a straight red card for hauling back Can Tho’s forward that was that. You have to feel that if Than Quang Ninh kept a full complement on the field they would’ve gone on to win. It just so happens that we’ll never know.

Final score: Can Tho 1-1 Than Quang Ninh.

Sanna Khanh Hoa provided the venue as HAGL looked to build on some positive results as of late. It what was a relatively tight affair where both teams cancelled each other out, we had to wait until the 71st-minute for the deadlock to be broken. It was worth the wait.

A HAGL corner was half cleared to the edge of the area. Luong Xuan Truong was on hand to do the damage from there. Ping. Right into the bottom corner, the keeper didn’t have a prayer. After that, controversy ensued.

Was It A Penalty? I Have No Idea

HAGL were on the hunt for their second when Sanna Khanh Hoa broke faster than the speed of light and next thing you knew, they had a penalty. It was harsh. Very, very harsh. Apparently, there was a push in the back. I’ve watched it over ten times and I still can’t make my mind up.

Naturally, Tran Van Vu made no mistake from twelve yards out. 1-1 with two minutes left on the clock. Nowt happened. In hindsight, it was a good point for HAGL, although the circumstances would probably mean they viewed it as two points lost.

Final score: Sanna Khanh Hoa 1-1 HAGL.

We close in Ho Chi Minh City as we touched on earlier. I got soaked on the way to the game as it started chucking it down just as I left. What a delight. I knew Ha Noi would beat Ho Chi Minh and I said as much in the preview, perhaps the most surprising thing was how the game actually played out…

HCM controlled the opening period as their high-pressing game was causing Ha Noi a world of problems and when they took the lead courtesy of Nguyen Hai Anh’s heavily deflected effort, no-one could begrudge them that.

You could tell that it was only a matter of time before Ha Noi had their way, though. Saying that, HCM had their chances on the counter and if their front line were more composed, I would perhaps be writing a slightly different report.

Ho Chi Minh Controlled The First Half

For the remainder of the first-half, Ha Noi were prevented from levelling proceedings by a combination of slack finishing and excellent keeping. That wasn’t the case after the break.

Seven minutes was all it took for Do Hung Dung to even it up after some exquisite work down the left meant he was left alone just inside the area. Take nothing away from him, it was a divine finish. Awful defending once again, mind.

Ten minutes later, the turnaround was complete. Nguyen Van Quyet latched on to a lofted through ball, rounded the keeper whose positioning was shoddy and the rest was history. From the moment Ha Noi took the lead, there was never any danger of them relinquishing their position.

They Collapsed After The Break

Ganiyu Oseni was always going to get on the scoresheet. He is on fire. Oseni also produced the worst miss I’ve ever seen live; he was two yards out, open goal. Over the bar. Unbelievable Jeff. He didn’t make the same mistake twice as he reacted first a save that was pushed in his direction. It was getting embarrassing now.

Oseni’s second and Ha Noi’s fourth summed up the game perfectly. HCM were building an attack, Ha Noi closed off all the options so they had to go backwards. Going backwards is fine, as long as there’s enough weight on the pass.

A half-hearted pass back to the keeper was intercepted by Oseni and that was that. 4-1. Believe it or not, HCM’s keeper was probably their best player which tell its own story on its own.

Final score: Ho Chi Minh City 1-4 Ha Noi.

There you are. Ha Noi now hold a three-point gap at the top of the table and if their performance yesterday was anything to go by, it’ll be difficult for anyone to catch them. Becamex Binh Duong are now up to the dizzy heights of fourth after their impressive win.

At the opposite end of the table, Nam Dinh are now only two points from safety. Only six points separates 4th through to 14th, so anything could happen during the rest of the season. It promises to be a helluva ride.

Long An Are Still After A Win

In the second-tier, Long An’s wait for a win continues after they managed sabotage themselves expertly after taking the lead away at Viettel. Once they were reduced to ten men, they were never going to hold on.

That’s another tight league as there are only four points that splits top to bottom. There have only been three games played. We’ll check in with V-League 2 in more depth at some point this week. You have my word.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Until the next time.