Without two important centre-backs, Bui Tien Dung and Janclesio Santos, Viettel had been predicted to face numerous challenge in their trip to face HAGL, who were highly spirited following a four-game unbeaten run.
The reality proved the forecast was true, as the home side needed only two minutes to put themselves in front, with Hong Duy curling a convenient cross for foreigner Felipe Martins to slot in from close range to open the scoring.
The early goal made the match become more bustling, with both teams having displayed a skillful playstyle as expected by fans.
The guests lost out on a chance to restore parity in the 21st minute with Viet Phong missing a clever pass by Hoang Duc, but needed just seven more minutes to net an equaliser. It was Hoang Duc again who assisted teammate Bruno to shoot past keeper Van Truong and bring the match back to the starting line.
HAGL came close to resuming their lead several times during the remainder of the first half, with midfielder Luong Xuan Truong blasting a powerful strike narrowly wide from 25 metres (38’), Kim Bong-jin hitting the cross bar (43’) and Bruno seeing his shot stopped right on the goal-line.
Midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang contributes a goal to Viettel’s 3-2 victory against HAGL. (Photo: VPF)
A controversial situation took place in the 53rd minute, as referee Do Thanh De refused to award HAGL a penalty after Van Toan was knocked down in the box, triggering strong response from the home side’s coaching staff and players.
Playing in discomfort after being denied a penalty, HAGL’s defensive line made a serious mistake five minutes later, allowing Trong Dai to comfortably curl an eye-catching shot from 18 metres to make it 2-1 for Viettel.
After the unexpected goal, HAGL intensified their attacks seeking to equalise the score. However, their efforts had yet to pay off when the hosts conceded a third in the 81st minute, with Trong Hoang taking the ball from Bruno and firing a skillful strike from outside the area to put Nguyen Hai Bien’s side 3-1 in front.
With a few minutes left to play, HAGL only managed to pull back a goal on the stroke of over-time thanks to Trieu Viet Hung.
The bitter home loss prevented HAGL from escaping 10th place in the table, while Viettel set a foothold in the top five, an incredible result which was not expected at the beginning of the season.