The Red Lizards failed to impress in their maiden appearance on the Asian stage as they were overpowered by the Vietnamese side.By Anselm Noronha
Hanoi T&T put three goals past Pune FC's guard in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League play-off match at the Shiv Chhatrapati stadium in Balewadi, Pune, on Wednesday evening.
A barren first half was followed by the visitors scoring thrice in the second half with Sam Gallagher (52'), Nguyễn Văn Quyết (71') and Houghton Hector (83') putting their names on the scoresheet.
Both teams started with a similar formation (4-2-3-1) employing a lone striker in Mustapha Riga and Samson Kayode Olaleye for Pune FC and Ha Noi T&T respectively.
Ha Noi's Sam Gallagher was close to heading in a Thanh Luong's corner-kick in the eighth minute which prompted the home side to put their foot on the gas, but their finishing let them down.
In the 19th minute, Anthony D'Souza won the ball on the left and and his shot forced a diving save from Van Cong in goal. The ball fell for Gabriel Fernandes but the winger's tame effort went wide.
Gabriel Fernandes did well to get past Van Bien, but his eventual cross from inside the box was cleared by Gallagher while Thanh Luong's shot from outside the box was collected by Pune FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh on the second attempt in the other notable chances of the first half.
In the second period, Dhanpal Ganesh's low shot was more hopeful than anything else after the ball fell kindly for the midfielder following Arata Izumi's cross that was only half-cleared by Ha Noi's defense.
That was before Sam Gallagher headed in a Thanh Luong corner-kick to put the Vietnamese side in the lead in the 52nd minute.
Meanwhile, Mike Snoei's men continued to disappoint given their opportunities in front of the Ha Noi goal as Anthony and Riga failed to find the target after the hour mark.
Houghton Hector then sent in a cross from the left which was easily headed in by Nguyễn Văn Quyết in the 71st minute which deflated the home support.
Four minutes later, Riga once again failed to trouble the opponent's custodian, while Ha Noi scored their third goal in the 83rd minute. Hector's left-footed shot from the outside of his boot nestled into the back of the net - thus putting the game well and truly beyond Pune FC.
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