Selangor's hat-trick hero Paulo Rangel scoring against Vietnam side Hanoi T&T in the AFC Cup match at Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday. - AZHAR MAHFOF/ The Star
PETALING JAYA: Paulo Rangel fired a first half hat-trick to guide Selangor to their first Group F victory in the AFC Cup.
The Brazilian struck in the 21st, 32nd and 43rd minutes at the Shah Alam Stadium in the 3-1 win over Group F pacesetters Hanoi T&T of Vietnam.
The Malaysian side’s first win in four group matches kept alive their hopes of a top-two finish in the group.
Hanoi’s first defeat of the campaign prevented them from booking an early ticket to the knockout stage on Tuesday. The Vietnam club had defeated Selangor 1-0 in the reverse feature in Hanoi on March 19.
The visitors were the ones who started positively, with forwards Hughton Hector and Gonzalo Morrankle both guilty of spurning good scoring chances early on.
Selangor shot ahead against the run of play in the 21st minute in their first real chance of the match.
There was no clear danger when Rangel leaped the highest to connect with a long free-kick floated into the box.
Hanoi goalkeeper Duong Hong Son completely misjudged the flight of the Brazilian’s looping header, and could only watch in horror as the ball dropped into the net.
Selangor doubled their lead 11 minutes later through a well-worked goal.
Rangel started the move by playing the ball out wide to A. Thamil Arasu. The national Under-23 striker’s cross was flicked on by Abdul Hadi Yahya for Rangel, who coolly slotted past Hong Son.
Hanoi reduced the deficit two minutes later when they were awarded a penalty after Hector was felled by Hazwan Bakiri in the box.
Skipper Bunyamin Umar and Thamil both got into the referee’s book for protesting that the Trinidad and Tobago player made a meal of minimal contact from Hazwan.
Morrankle made no mistake from the spot by sending Selangor goalkeeper Farizal Marlias the wrong way.
The home side restored their two-goal advantage two minutes before the break, with Rangel latching onto an S. Veenod defence-splitting pass before beating the Hanoi goalkeeper from close range.
In the other Group F match yesterday, Arema FC defeated Maldives’ Maziya FC 3-2 in Malang, Indonesia.
Despite last night’s defeat, Hanoi still lead the group with nine points with two rounds of matches remaining. The Vietnam club are two points ahead of Arema, with Selangor a further two points behind. Winless Maziya are propping up the table with just one point.