A 5-2 victory against Singapore’s Hougang United on Thursday sent Viettel straight into the knockout round of AFC Cup as the leader of group I.
Although Viettel only needed a draw in the last game of group I to advance, the Hanoi-based club fielded their strongest lineup. Hougang also put their best players on. However, the game was affected by heavy rain before kickoff.
Viettel pushed forward right at the start but Hougang scored first. In an attempt of preventing a shot, Nguyen Duc Hoang Minh accidentally committed a foul and the referee gave Hougang a penalty. On the spit, Pedro Bortoluzo tricked Viettel keeper Quang The Tai to open the scoring.
The host struggled to find the equalizer until the end of the first half when the drama started. Viettel got a penalty in the 41st minute after a Hougang player committed a handball inside the box. Pedro Paulo successfully converted the penalty and two minutes later, he scored the double also from the spot when Hougang got another handball.
But Viettel could only hold on to the lead for three minutes. The referee gave the fourth penalty in this game and this time Hougang got it. On the spot, Bortoluzo once again beat keeper The Tai and 2-2 was the score of the first half.
In the second half, U23 Vietnam player Nham Manh Dung was subbed in and he made a difference. Just 10 minutes on the field Dung sprinted down the left flank and passed inside the box for Hoang Minh to tap it in.
The remaining time saw Viettel dominating and scoring two more goals, all by Geovane Magno. His first goal was a gift when a Hougang defender made a careless pass back to the keeper and Magno couldn’t miss a chance like that.
The second goal of Magno was a beauty when he won the ball and dribbled from the left flank into the box, past three defenders before finishing into the top corner to secure the 5-2 win for Viettel.
With this win, Viettel finished the group stage with nine points. They will play the knockout round in August.
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