Nam Dinh’s dreams shattered in the national cup semifinal

Dong A Thanh Hoa, after a heavy 2-5 defeat to Nam Dinh at home in the 21st round of the Night Wolf V.League 1 – 2023/2024, looked set for another tough match in the National Cup. However, the team rallied from an early deficit to secure a 2-1 comeback victory, thanks to a stellar performance by striker Rimario, who contributed both a goal and an assist.

Nam Dinh, having secured the V.League title one round early, rested many key players in the final round of the league to prepare for the National Cup semi-final. Despite this, they were expected to maintain their dominant form with the likes of Rafealson and Hendrio leading the charge, aiming for a domestic double this season.

The match began with Thanh Hoa showing resilience and pressing hard. In the 10th minute, Nam Dinh’s goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh had to make a crucial save to keep the game level. Although Nam Dinh appeared disjointed, they were efficient in their attacks. In the 15th minute, a combination play between Rafealson and Hendrio saw the latter skillfully maneuver past defenders to slot the ball into the net, giving Nam Dinh the lead.

Thanh Hoa, undeterred, quickly regrouped. Their persistence paid off in the 24th minute when Rimario’s through ball found A Mit, who calmly finished past Nguyen Manh to equalize.

Nam Dinh started the second half brightly. In the 51st minute, Van Vi’s shot was parried by Thanh Hoa’s goalkeeper Xuan Hoang, only for Rafealson to miss the follow-up from close range. Despite their efforts, Nam Dinh found themselves trailing again in the 62nd minute when Hong Duy’s midfield error allowed Doan Ngoc Tan to set up Rimario, who placed his shot into the far corner.

With the lead, Thanh Hoa adopted a more physical approach, often disrupting Nam Dinh’s rhythm. Xuan Hoang’s time-wasting tactics further frustrated the visitors. In the 73rd minute, Nam Dinh thought they had equalized from a defensive error, but the goal was disallowed for a foul by Rafealson after a VAR review.

Tensions rose further when Thanh Hoa’s Lam Ti Phong went down in the box, but the referee waved off penalty appeals, with VAR not intervening. Nam Dinh continued to press but failed to find the net, with Rafealson missing key opportunities and Lucas’s last-minute effort being saved by Xuan Hoang’s quick reactions.

The match concluded with Thanh Hoa’s 2-1 victory, securing their place in the National Cup final against Hanoi FC, who had earlier defeated Viettel 4-1. Thanh Hoa’s resilience and tactical discipline, especially from their standout performer Rimario, proved crucial in their journey to the final.

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