Hanoi FC talisman Nguyen Quang Hai scored a brace in grand style to lead his side past Altyn Asyr in the first leg of the AFC Cup inter-zone semifinal on Tuesday.
The Vietnamese side are now one goal clear ahead of the return game in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Tuesday next week.
Quang Hai was no doubt the inspirer with a sensational free-kick and superb left-footed shot among an ocean of Ashgabat defenders to put Hanoi in the lead from one goal down.
The Central Asian visitors prefered a counterattack formation but they unexpectedly opened the scoring very early.
Four minutes into the game, Murat Yakshiyev beat the offside trap to get a pass from Myrat Annayev thanks to Duc Huy’s sloppy defence.
Yakshiyev subdued goalkeeper Nguyen Van Cong with a neat shot into the far corner to the amazement of the home crowd at Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi.
The hosts quickly staged an offensive performance, creating many chances, including one denied twice by the woodwork in the 23rd minute.
Quang Hai’s delivery from the left side of the box was followed up by a Pape Omar Faye header that hit the bar, before Papa Ibou Kebe’s immediate effort was denied by the same bar again.
But Hanoi finally managed to equalize in the 41st minute.
Quang Hai curled the ball with his magical left foot into the net from a setpiece 22 meters from the goal line, leaving goalie Mammet Orazmuhamedov glued to his position.
In the second half, Hanoi kept attacking and Quang Hai scored again just after the hour mark.
The young star dribbled the ball in the box surrounded by at least three Altyn Asyr players before superbly firing a left-footer into the left corner on 61 minutes.
But just three minutes later, Van Dung made a mistake passing the ball to a visitor, leading to an equalizer by Altymyrat Annadurdyýew.
Relentless efforts by the hosts paid off in the 88th minute, when Hung Dung was tackled by Orazmuhamedov in the penalty area.
Van Quyet step forward to convert from the spot to make it 3-2.
Hanoi will have to be careful in the return game, having conceded two goals at home, as Altyn Asyr only need to win either 1-0 or 2-1 to enter the inter-zone final.