Monday , June 24 2024

Hanoi FC’s upset of Japanese giant shocks Asia

Football fans in Asia were beside themselves when sleepers Hanoi FC defeated Japan’s AFC Champions League defending title-holders Urawa 2-1, ending the supposed juggernaut’s hopes of defending their title.

Defender Dao Van Nam celebrates after scoring for HanoI FC against Urawa Red Diamonds in AFC Champions League on Dec. 6, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Minh

Defender Dao Van Nam celebrates after scoring for HanoI FC against Urawa Red Diamonds in AFC Champions League in Hanoi on Dec. 6, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Minh

“Hanoi FC made history against the giant, the strongest club in Japan,” Siam Sport wrote. “Urawa had never before lost to a Southeast Asian club in the AFC Champions League.”

Since 2007, Urawa have won seven matches and drawn only one against Southeast Asian teams, scoring 41 and conceding only six goals.

In the first leg of the AFC Champions League group stage this season, Urawa dominated Hanoi 6-0 at home.

Thus, the recent loss against Hanoi left most observers at a loss.

After Alexander Scholz’s penalty in the 10th minute was blocked by goalkeeper Nguyen Van Hoang, Urawa conceded a goal in the 53rd minute with Dao Van Nam scoring from a header.

Striker Bryan Linssen kept Urawa’s hope alive in the 65th minute with an equalizer.

But a late-game mistake by Urawa’s defense gave Hanoi a penalty and Pham Tuan Hai made no mistake putting ball to net, securing the 2-1 win for Hanoi.

The unprecedented defeat eliminated defending champions Urawa from the current AFC Champions League season.

“Hanoi end Urawa’s reign,” Asian Football Confederation wrote. “Tuan Hai slotted in the penalty for a famous win.”

Urawa dominated the game with 66.7% possession, including 21 shots with six on target, compared to Hanoi’s 10 shots and four on target.

But the favorites couldn’t capitalize for the win against the hungry Vietnamese squad’s show of underdog heart.

“The dream of winning the AFC Champions League two consecutive seasons is shattered,” Soccer King wrote.

Urawa have seven points and thus placed second in group J without making the top three best second-place teams to enter the round of 16.

Japan had expected more of its hometown heroes.

Tokyo Sports reported that Urawa’s historic loss caused an uproar on social networks. A series of disappointed criticisms aimed at the club and its players flooded online outlets and forums.

After the match, goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa shouldered some of the blame when he told the press that the final score was an unacceptable result because he couldn’t help the team save the penalty.

“I’m very disappointed because we didn’t win despite all our efforts,” the 37-year-old goalkeeper said.

Defender Scholz blamed himself for missing a penalty at the beginning of the match. But he also said he did not think it was the main reason for the defeat.

“We lost because of a corner and a penalty,” he said. “I apologize to all the fans for not being able to win.”

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