V-League 1 giants Ha Noi T&T took the first step towards AFC Champions League football in 2014 after beating India’s Pune 3-0 in their first round qualifier on Wednesday.
Following a goalless first half at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, the visitors took the lead seven minutes after the break when Sam Gallagher opened the scoring, before Vietnam international Nguyen Van Quyet added a second in the 72nd minute.
Seven minutes from time, Trinidad and Tobago international Hughton Hector netted to make it 3-0 and seal Ha Noi’s progress to the second round of qualification.
Next up for the Vietnamese side is a testing trip to Muangthong United, who played in the group stage of the Champions League last season but ended the campaign with just a point to their name after a tough draw pitted them against eventual champions Guangzhou Evergrande, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Urawa Red Diamonds.
Muangthong missed out on automatic qualification this year after finishing second in the Thai Premier League to Buriram United.
Meanwhile, Pune will still participate in continental football this year as they enter the AFC Cup and will play in a group consisting of Myanmar’s Nay Pyi Taw, Hong Kong giants Kitchee and either Tampines Rovers or Balestier Khalsa of Singapore.
The other first round qualifier in the East Asia Zone will see Tampines take on Hong Kong’s South China at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday.