The match took place at Thong Nhat Stadium in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday evening.
Statistics from the organizing board showed that the battle between Hoang Anh Gia Lai and Yokohama F. Marinos was attended by about 11,200 spectators.
Despite returning to the AFC Champions League after 17 years, the Hoang Anh Gia Lai players showed a high level of confidence in their continuous attacks in the very first minutes.
Vu Van Thanh had an impressive shot in the fourth minute but the ball hit the post.
|Nguyen Cong Phuong (L) of Hoang Anh Gia Lai handles the ball during their opener against Yokohama F. Marinos in the AFC Champions League in Ho Chi Minh City, April 16, 2022. Photo: N.K. / Tuoi Tre
Yokohama F. Marinos, considered the stronger contenders, quickly caught up and scored two goals in a row with two free-kicks in the 19th and 25th minutes.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai coach Kiatisak Senamuang arranged a solid defense line but did not anticipate the set-piece scenario.
With two goals down, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, considered the hosts, gave it all in the following minutes.
Vietnamese internationals Nguyen Cong Phuong and Nguyen Van Toan constantly sought for chances to find the visitors’ net.
In the 32nd minute, Phuong took a corner kick and passed the ball to Mauricio Barbosa, whose header touched a Yokohama F. Marinos player before striking the back of the net.
The crowd went wild following the goal, which further boosted the spirit of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai players.
|Hoang Anh Gia Lai goalie Huynh Tuan Linh reacts in their opener against Yokohama F. Marinos in the AFC Champions League in Ho Chi Minh City, April 16, 2022. Photo: N.K. / Tuoi Tre
In the second half, Yokohama F. Marinos continued to stage many attacks but were unable to get pass goalie Huynh Tuan Linh.
Linh managed to prevent the Japanese team from scoring another goal in at least two close encounters in the 68th and 90th minutes.
The match ended 1-2 for Yokohama F. Marinos, but Hoang Anh Gia Lai had no reason to be sad following a neck-and-neck battle with a strong side, said coach Kiatisak.
The players learned a lot from the game, he continued, adding that they will make necessary improvements to play better in the coming match against Sydney FC at Thong Nhat on April 19.
Introduced in 1967, the AFC Champions League is an annual continental club football competition organized by the Asian Football Confederation, and contested by Asia’s top-division football clubs.