Ha Noi FC drew 1-1 with Ceres Negros of the Philippines in the first leg of the AFC Cup’s ASEAN zonal semi-finals yesterday.
The game was held at Panaad Stadium in the Philippines.
The two teams previously met in this tournament in 2017, with Ha Noi drawing 1-1 at home and losing 6-2 away.
Ha Noi lined up with a number of national team players and top strikers, but it was goalkeeper Nguyen Van Cong who stood out in the first half making three vital saves.
The capital team’s defence looked weak down the wings but the hosts were unable to take advantage.
After the break, Ceres Negros played on the counter-attack and their efforts paid off with a goal in the 57th minute.
Receiving a pass from Stephan Shrock on the right wing, Bienve Maranon found space at the back post and headed home to beat goalie Cong.
This set-back seemed to wake Ha Noi up, and they were quickly back on level terms when Pham Thanh Luong, who had only just been introduced as a substitute, showed great poise to play in Pape Omar Faye who slotted home.
V.League champions Ha Noi entered the semi-finals as Group F winners and the highest-scoring team in the competition with 23 goals. While current champions of the local league, Ceres Negros topped Group G.
Ha Noi will take on Ceres Negros again in the second leg at Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi on June 25 with the winners set to advance to the ASEAN Zonal final.
A win or a 0-0 draw will help Ha Noi make history by reaching the ASEAN Zonal final for the first time.
Today, Becamex Binh Duong will face PSM Makassar of Indonesia in the first leg of their semi-final at Go Dau Stadium in the southern province of Binh Duong.
Talented midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai is refreshed and raring to go ahead of the AFC Cup’s ASEAN zonal semi-finals when Ha Noi FC visit Ceres Negros today.
Vietnamese representatives Hanoi FC and Becamex Binh Duong recorded important victories in their last group matches on May 15, to see them through to the ASEAN zonal semifinals at the 2019 AFC Cup.