Sixteen became eight as the Vietnamese Cup took centre stage over the V-League this weekend. Thankfully, there were no games to send us to sleep unlike last week in the V-League as each game had at least two goals in it.

Last Eight Of The Cup Is Over Two Legs

I’ll run through the draw at the end of the article, but, the next round is over two legs which means one thing and one thing only. More content! What a dream. Let’s not rest on our laurels any longer as we look at each game in isolation in time order.  

We’ll begin with one of the three second-tier sides left in the tournament, Binh Phuoc who entertained lowly Nam Dinh who really need a win to distract themselves from their diabolical league form.

As I touched on in the preview for the game, it was difficult to really see why Nam Dinh were down as odds-on favourites with the bookies because let’s face it, they’re shite at the moment. No doubt, it would be the laziness of the bookies who would just look at the football pyramid in Vietnam, see that Binh Phuoc are the league below and presume they’ll lose.

In what was a tight encounter, it was always going to take a moment of madness or brilliance to separate the two and with seven minutes left on the clock, it was the latter.

You Don’t Save Those

Tao Minh Cao picked up on a loose ball on the edge of Nam Dinh’s penalty area and unleashed a rocket which found its way beyond the keeper and into the bottom corner. You don’t save those. If Binh Phuoc could hold in we would have an upset on our hands. Or a cupset as some people like to call it. I don’t like to call it that, grow up.

Deep into second-half stoppage time, Nam Dinh’s keeper had a rush of blood to the head. That’s putting it mildly. A moment of sheer stupidity is probably more accurate. Let me explain; the forward beat the keeper to the ball and knocked it beyond him, however, instead of running back to the goal, he decided to charge and scythe the player down.

He should’ve gone back to his goal and the situation probably would’ve fixed itself, but oh no, he fancied giving away a penalty. Quite how he wasn’t at least given a yellow card I’ll never know. Can only imagine that the referee must’ve felt sorry for him. Anyway, the keeper went the right way, yet he couldn’t keep out Đặng Trần Hoàng Nhựt’s spot-kick as it was just too good.

Final score: Binh Phuoc 2-0 Nam Dinh.

We’ve now got three games which kicked off at the same time. Oh, where to start? Becamex vs Binh Dinh will go last as that’s where I was which leaves us with a choice of Quang Nam vs HAGL or Sanna Khanh Hoa vs Hai Phong. Hmm.

Let’s keep it simple and go with the one with the least amount of goals first. That game was the clash between Sanna Khanh Hoa and Hai Phong.

Hai Phong’s Yellow Kit Is To Die For

Hai Phong drew first blood as they took the lead with less than ten minutes on the clock through Vũ Hoàng Dương. He was the fastest to react to Errol Stevens’ knockdown and the away side were one to the good. One thing worth mentioning is that their yellow kit is gorgeous. It’s yellow with a hint of faded orange at the top. Unbelievable Jeff.

Hai Phong’s lead didn’t last long as Trần Văn Vũ levelled from the spot and we still hadn’t played twenty minutes. Perhaps the most surprising thing was that we didn’t see another goal in the first-half as both teams tried but ultimately failed to go into the break with an advantage.

A well-crafted goal from Hoàng Quốc Chí turned the game on its head as Sanna Khanh Hoa took the lead for the first time.

It was scarcely deserved by all accounts, Hai Phong had been much the better side. How Hai Phong didn’t manage to take the game to penalties is beyond me as they had chance, after chance, after chance. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be, I guess.

Final score: Sanna Khanh Hoa 2-1 Hai Phong.

Right, we know where we’re off to now as we’ve already touched on it very briefly. Quang Nam faced my tip for the whole thing, HAGL in a game that swung back and forth on more than one occasion.

HAGL went one-up seven minutes before half-time courtesy of a Công Phượng volley that you have to see to believe. When I saw HAGL against Sai Gon, they were incredibly unlucky to not get anything from the game and I knew they had something special.

This Goal Was Special, But Not The Pick Of The Weekend

Công Phượng played an intelligent one-two and as the ball came back to him in the air he just volleyed it into the roof of the net. Bosh.

Quang Nam levelled at the beginning of the second-half with a very well taken goal of their own. Hà Minh Tuấn controlled the ball into him with his thigh, let the ball bounce once and then stuck it past the HAGL keeper to bring the proceedings level once more.

Five minutes later Hà Minh Tuấn doubled his tally as he ghosted in completely unattended to head home. Quang Nam now 2-1 up.

Lương Xuân Trường brought HAGL back into the game from the spot after Thiago carelessly pulled back the onrushing HAGL forward. 2-2. It also meant that there had been a penalty awarded and scored in all three games so far. Weird.

What Was Phạm Văn Cường Thinking?

With the game looking set to go to penalties, HAGL abandoned their usual short-passing game and lumped a ball upfield which should have been easy for Phạm Văn Cường to deal with in the Quang Nam goal.

Emphasis on should have been. He misjudged the ball horribly, the ball bounced over his head and HAGL had the chance to put one in the empty net and seal the game. Phạm Văn Cường had other ideas. He pulled the striker back to concede a 92nd-minute penalty.

Công Phượng, much like Hà Minh Tuấn, finished the game with a brace as he put his penalty in the middle of the goal to send HAGL to the last eight and keep my cup prediction alive. Go on the lads.

Final score: Quang Nam 2-3 HAGL.

Our last game on Saturday that we’re going to look at now (remember, Becamex game comes last) was a repeat of a league fixture from last week. Ha Noi vs Sai Gon. It was a similar tale to last week as Ha Noi pressed and pressed without scoring.

That was until Hoàng Vũ Samson put one away with the last kick of the first-half to put the home side in the ascendancy. From that point onwards, there was never any question as to which side would progress to the quarter-finals.

Oseni Has Pace To Burn

Ganiyu Oseni’s pace was what created Ha Noi’s second as the V-League’s top goalscorer added to his tally after motoring away from the Sai Gon defence. Only two minutes later,

Oseni doubled his tally and put Ha Noi three-up with a completely different goal than his first. He made room for himself on the edge of the box, touched the ball out his feet and pinged it into the bottom corner. 3-0.

Đỗ Hùng Dũng made it four with an almost identical goal to Oseni’s second, touch out of his feet and bang, right into the corner. It was getting embarrassing for Sai Gon. Samson got his second of the evening with another poacher’s finish in the six-yard box. 5-0.

I’m watching Ha Noi next week away at Ho Chi Minh and if they can perform anywhere near as well as they did on Saturday night, Ho Chi Minh could find themselves in a spot of bother.

Final score: Ha Noi 5-0 Sai Gon.

Moving onto Sunday, we’ll start with the game which I said would have the biggest victory in my preview. FLC Thanh Hoa hosted a Long An side who are drab. That’s putting it politely.

Mind-blowingly, it was Long An who had the best chance early doors as an excellent delivery was headed wide by the finest of margins. Those margins can make all the difference.

It took the home side until the final ten minutes to break Long An’s resistance and it was Trọng Hoàng’s composure which did it as he calmly took the ball on his chest while surrounded by red shirts, had another touch to get away from the Long An defence and a third to finish.

You Could See Their Hearts Break

I actually felt quite bad for Long An because you could see all their hearts collectively break as the ball hit the back of the net.

It was ended as a contest moments later when Hoàng Đình Tùng headed home from a wide free-kick. To be fair, if it wasn’t Hoàng who headed home, it would’ve been someone else as the Thanh Hoa players were practically forming an orderly queue. Long An’s wait for a victory has now surpassed the 225-day mark. Such is the magic of the cup, eh?

Final score: FLC Thanh Hoa 2-0 Long An.  

Central Vietnam is the location for our penultimate Sunday game as Da Nang faced a Can Tho side who were surprising a few people this season, myself included. Thanh Hải timed his run flawlessly to put Da Nang a goal up within a quarter of an hour as he finished first-time. No-one was really expecting that to happen. Game on.

A simply divine header from Can Tho’s Wander Luiz restored normality eleven minutes after Da Nang had taken the lead. The reason why the header was so impressive was that it was from twelve yards out. Good neck lad.

A free-header from Hà Đức Chinh literally seconds later put Da Nang back into the lead and it made up for the chance he missed shortly before Luiz equalised. 2-1 to Da Nang, are you still with me?

Wander Luiz Scored The Goal Of The Weekend

What happened next was sublime. Sublime and quality of the highest order. A ball was whipped in from the left and Wander Luiz challenged Da Nang’s keeper in the air. There is a question mark over whether or not the keeper had both hands on the ball, but let’s not take anything away from what happened next.

Wander Luiz flicked the ball up and performed a bicycle kick from the edge of the area. It is now apparent that Wander Luiz taught Cristiano Ronaldo everything he knows. 2-2.

Rather annoyingly, the turning point of the game isn’t shown on the official highlights. Anyway, what you need to know is Hoàng Vissai got sent off for a second bookable offense with ten minutes left. He plays for Can Tho, by the way.

Six minutes later, Da Nang were back in the driving seat for the third time. Junior finished expertly after a fortunate deflection meant the ball found his way to him. 3-2.

With only a minute left on the clock, Gaston Merlo made it 4-2 as Can Tho’s keeper thought it’d be a good idea to come for a ball that he was never going to reach. Merlo got their first and that was that. Game, set and match to Da Nang.

Final score: Da Nang 4-2 Can Tho.

Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) entertained Ho Chi Minh City in the last game on Sunday. I had HCM down to win this one, although, in reality, it could have gone either way.

Maybe SLNA will wake up now they’re out of the AFC Cup. if the opening ten minutes was anything to go by, they’d done just that as only the linesman’s flag prevented them from taking an early lead.

Ho Chi Minh Looked Bad At The Back

Ho Chi Minh were getting taken apart left, right and centre and no-one was shocked when SLNA did take the lead midway through the first-half. A delivery from the left was met with the diving head of Hồ Tấn Tài and if Ho Chi Minh defend like this against Ha Noi, a cricket score could well be on the cards.

Ho Chi Minh had the better of the chances in the early part of the second half without really testing the keeper, however, it was all change after a two-minute spell of madness saw Sầm Ngọc Đức pick up two yellow cards in quick succession. HCM looked ok with eleven, they didn’t stand a chance with ten.

Another goal, another header. Ho Chi Minh can’t defend in the air. Phạm Xuân Mạnh beat more than one HCM defender in the air from a corner as his header nestled in the corner and ensured that SLNA still have a chance of defending their cup win.

Final score: SLNA 2-0 Ho Chi Minh City.

Last, but by no means least, we come to Becamex Binh Duong’s home tie against Binh Dinh. I’ll be honest, when I got there, I was slightly worried as the ticket I purchased was number 00005, was anyone actually going show up? In the end, there was just shy of 2,000 people there which isn’t bad I guess for a cup game against a second-tier side.

Right from the word go you could see there was a league between these two as Becamex dictated the play and Binh Dinf tended to go for the ‘lump it and see what happens’ approach. In particular, Lê Tấn Tài was controlling the play with his range of passing finding anyone who wanted the ball.

It Was More Of A Case Of How Many

Becamex took only seventeen minutes to open the scoring as Binh Dinh’s offside trap fell to pieces thanks to a stray left-back. Anh Đức took the goal very well and from that point onwards, it was a case of ‘how many’ rather than ‘can Binh Dinh get back into the game’.

Once again, Binh Dinh’s marking or lack of it played a part in the second goal as Trịnh Duy Long lost his man to make it two before the referee sounded his whistle for half-time. To say the second-half was weird would be an understatement as I had people sat by me who were laughing at how bad some of the finishing was from Becamex.

There was a stage where it was shot off target, shot off target, shot off target, you get the picture. I’m just glad my internet was playing up on my phone because I was going to have a bet at half-time on there being over 4.5 goals, what a relief. Binh Dinh looked dangerous on occasion but never enough to worry Becamex as they go through to the last eight with dreams of going one better than last year.

Final score: Becamex Binh Duong 2-0 Binh Dinh.

That’s the end of that chapter. No real surprises then in the last sixteen as Binh Phuoc keep the flag flying for V-League 2 and you’re probably wondering who they’ve got in the next round. Wonder no more.

HAGL vs Ha Noi | Sanna Khanh Hoa vs Becamex Bình Duong | FLC Thanh Hoa vs Binh Phuoc | Da Nang vs SLNA.

From this part of the tournament onwards, all games are over two legs. As it stands at this present moment, the first legs will take place on the 11th of May and the second on the 15th, so they’ll be with us before we know it! I’m a bit pissed at HAGL getting Ha Noi as it’s the one team I’m not convinced they can beat, nonetheless, over two legs, who knows?

That’s all from me today, I’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Until the next time.