Bon Jovi is in the building as we’re halfway there. Friday saw the first-leg of the Vietnamese Cup quarter-finals and there wasn’t a great deal of surprise with any of the results as they were all pretty difficult to call anyway. Some things don’t change, though, as Oseni scored AGAIN for Ha Noi against HAGL and Becamex Binh Duong won again!

Big things are happening with this Binh Duong side. I’m just gutted I’m missing the second-leg because I’m at a volleyball tournament; ah well.

Everything Pointed Towards A Home Win

We won’t begin with either of those as we like to do things in a time order to show there’s complete transparency here. Summat like that, anyway. Perhaps the most open and shut game was between Thanh Hoa and An Cuong – First Division side Binh Phuoc as anything other than a home win would surprise everyone.

When Hoàng Đình Tùng gave Thanh Hoa the lead inside ten minutes, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Binh Phuoc. He finished wonderfully after a delicate assist, the keeper didn’t have a prayer (Bon Jovi is here again).

Binh Phuoc should have been level ten minutes before the break. An incisive breakaway saw Binh Phuoc in a one-on-one situation. At the third attempt, the frontman finally got beyond the keeper. What a chance! Side netting.

Mai Tiến Thành Was Lying In Wait

Between then and half-time, there were only really half-chances to talk about, most of them falling to Thanh Hoa. We’re not going to waste anyone’s time with half-chances though. Five minutes after the break, Thanh Hoa doubled their lead. A corner was half-cleared to the edge of the area. Mai Tiến Thành was there, waiting. Ready to pounce like a predator.

Most players in this situation leather the ball and it goes into Row Z. Not Mai Tiến Thành. Oh no. He got his head over the ball and arrowed it into the bottom corner. Take a bow. Take a fecking bow.

Before we arrived at the hour mark, it went from bad to worse for Binh Phuoc as they gave away a stupid penalty. Literally, where are the brain cells? One of Binh Phuoc’s defender thought it would be a sensible idea to chuck a Thanh Hoa player to the floor in clear view of the referee. Bravo. He’s only gone and hit it wide! Lifeline.

Eat Your Heart Out, Rivaldo

What happened next is unexplainable. Nguyễn van Bakel was shown a straight red. It seems that the referee believed he elbowed someone. He didn’t. It was quite frankly disgusting playacting by the Binh Phuoc player and if that doesn’t get overturned then I give up on football. Think back to what Rivaldo did in the World Cup. It wasn’t quite as bad, but that gives you an idea.

Fortunately for Thanh Hoa, the man disadvantage didn’t have an impact as Binh Phuoc failed to get a crucial away goal. It’s hard to see Thanh Hoa chucking it away from here and I fully expect them to complete the job tomorrow.

Final score: FLC Thanh Hoa 2-0 Binh Phuoc.   

Friday’s other early game was Da Nang’s clash with Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) and we’re not going to bother worrying about what happened in the first-half, because, well, fuck all happened.

There was action aplenty in the second-half though as the deadlock was broken 112 seconds after the referee sounded his whistle. Ho Tuan Tai raced onto a ball over the top and the SLNA forward made no mistake against the keeper.

Ho Tuan Tai’s Brace Was Brilliant

1-0 to the away side. Ho Tuan Tai doubled his and SLNA’s tally with a deft finish only moments later. He once again sprung the offside trap before finishing with a first-time volley of the highest order. 2-0. Forty minutes left.

Phan Văn Đức made it three midway through the second-half as Da Nang decided not to bother with the whole art of defending and left him with acres of room. ACRES. A smart first-time finish made it 3-0.

With eight minutes left on the clock, Đỗ Merlo gave Da Nang a glimmer of hope. He beat the keeper to the ball and it was game on. Sort of. Da Nang-stanbul anyone?

Not quite. Da Nang threw everything they had at SLNA but they couldn’t get anything else on the scoreboard. Something tells me this isn’t the end of the story just yet, though…

Final score: Da Nang 1-3 SLNA.

Binh Duong o’clock! Their game against Sanna Khanh Hoa was never billed as an easy one. Nevertheless, Dinh Hoang Max made it two in two with a lovely effort from the edge of the area which the keeper could only stand and admire. That was just before half-time and it meant that Becamex had something to hold onto in the second-half.

Something Special Is Happening With Binh Duong

A goal-line clearance ensured that Binh Duong stayed in the lead as Sanna Khanh Hoa started to turn the heat up.

Do you know something? Apart from that goal-line clearance, Sanna Khanh Hoa didn’t really have another clear-cut chance which is testament to Binh Duong’s defensive set up. Maybe this could be their year?

Their formidable home record makes them slight favourites going into the second-leg.

Final score: Sanna Khanh Hoa 0-1 Becamex Binh Duong.

Hoang Gia Lai (HAGL) & Ha Noi took part in the Friday’s final game. This was my selection when it came to game of the round and on reflection, I think it was safe to say I was right. Within the opening fifteen minutes, HAGL nearly took the lead as a well-worked set-piece saw a header cannon off the underside off the crossbar before it was cleared.  

Oseni Plays & Scores – No Shocks Here

Deep into first-half stoppage time, it was the away side who took the lead via Oseni (who else?). He was the first to react after a fabulous save from the HAGL keeper. I’m starting to think I should just write Oseni scored before I even see what’s happened. Oseni plays, Oseni scores. And in other news, water is wet.

In a rather uncharacteristic fashion, Ha Noi shot themselves in the foot after their half-time jelly babies. Đỗ Duy Mạnh botched up his clearance well and truly and put it in his own net. He could’ve taken a touch if he wanted. He had that much time. Never mind. It was now 1-1 and my shout of HAGL to win the tournament was back on!

Both sides were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances in the following five minutes. HAGL fluffed a one-on-one when squaring it was a better option. At the other end, Oseni couldn’t find his footing and ended up falling over. Comical. Nguyễn Quang Hải had no such problem keeping his feet when he put Ha Noi back in the lead. He remained calm and composed after a couple of ricochets to put it home. 2-1 Ha Noi.

HAGL Couldn’t Make The Man Advantage Count

Nguyễn Công Phượng had the last laugh, though as he drew HAGL level from the spot in the final ten minutes. Ha Noi did have Phạm Thành Lương sent off with five minutes left. HAGL couldn’t make them pay. Oseni didn’t have any other chances, either. All to play for in the second-leg, although one would have to favour Ha Noi.

Final score: HAGL 2-2 Ha Noi.

Tune in on Wednesday to find out who has made the semi-finals. Alternatively, keep hitting F5 on your keyboard as articles will be coming through thick and fast!

Until the next time.