Hanoi FC, the defending champions of Vietnam's top-tier V-League 1, failed to secure a berth in the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League after suffering a 1-4 loss to hosts Shandong Luneng in the play-off at the Jinan Olympic Sports Center in China on Tuesday.
Despite a spirited performance and 1-0 lead in the first half, consecutive mistakes from the defense line cost the Vietnamese side four conceded goals in the remaining time of the game.
The opening goal came to Hanoi in the 39th minute, when Ganiyu Oseni’s clipped cross from the left found captain Nguyen Van Quyet lurking before his bouncing volley zipped into the far corner of the net.
But Shandong Luneng appeared to get themselves together after the break, addressing more pressure on Hanoi. The Chinese club’s effort took its toll 20 minutes into the second half.
The host team had their attempts converted into goals from Liu Jun Shuai, Graziano Pellè, Liu Binbin, and Zhou Haibin in the 65th, 73rd, 86th minutes, and in injury time, respectively.
This defeat makes it five times for Hanoi to have crashed out of the AFC Champions League qualifying round, while Shandong Luneng will compete in Group E of the competition.
The Vietnamese club will now take part in the 2019 AFC Cup, Asia’s secondary club football tournament, where they join Tampines Rovers from Singapore, Myanmar’s Yangon United and Cambodia’s Naga World in Group F.
The 2019 AFC Champions League group stage is scheduled to be contested by 32 teams from March 4 to May 22, 2019, while the AFC Cup will run from February 5 until November 2, 2019.