City overcame the heat, a partisan home crowd and an inform Sông Lam Nghệ An side to record another fine away victory winning 3-1 at the SVĐ Vinh to reclaim top spot and cement their place in the race for a top 8 finish prior to the season split.
Coach Chung made a couple of changes for this evening's away fixture in Vinh. One of them enforced due to an injury sustained in the previous victory over Viettel FC. Coming into the Starting XI were midfielders Đỗ Văn Thuận and Phạm Văn Thành. Both of whom were on the bench last time out. Dropping to the bench went Ngô Hoàng Thịnh which was a tactical move as the ex-Sông Lam Nghệ An (SLNA) midfielder had performed admirably against Viettel. The other change being due to an injury to Nguyễn Công Thành causing the player to miss the trip north all together.
Starting XI vs Sông Lam Nghệ An
The crowd was still entering the stadium as the two sides entered the pitch under a blazing sun. Shade was at a premium which led for interesting viewing of where fans choose to sit and move to as the sun moved overhead. There was no shade on offer for the four City fans who had made the long journey north to support their team.
City Fans Before The Game
Starting XI Before Kick Off
A bumper crowd was present at the Vinh Stadium, with enthusiastic locals scrambling to see their beloved SLNA in action. Once again relying on the prowesses of Văn Đức and Peter Samuel, SLNA set up themselves patiently as Ho Chi Minh City assumed control of the match, City owning 65% of the ball in the first 20 minutes. Both sides had chances in the early stages of the match. Papé Diakité saw his early effort fly past the post in the 4th minute after Huy Toàn's shot found its way to the big defender.
Papé Diakité Goes Close For City
Despite City's obvious intention to take the game to their hosts, it was not all one way traffic. In the 13th minute a shot from SLNA’s Đình Tiến went wide of the City goal when in truth he had time to place his shot.
Probably due to the extreme heat, the opening fifteen minutes was a cagey affair littered with interruptions.
SLNA's Đình Đồng Fouls Seo Yong-duk
In the 22nd minute, Đình Tiến once again threatened the City defense after an excellent SLNA counterattack and although finding the back of the City net, celebrations were cut short as the assistant referee's flag was raised ruling out Đình Tiến’s effort for offside.
City were still comfortable against a side that had last time out put current champions Hà Nội to the sword. Twenty six minutes into the game and the referee brandished City's first yellow card. The recipient striker Amido Baldé (99) for a foul.
City were beginning to apply pressure on the SLNA defense and the men in yellow were to buckle in the 29th minute. City's former Celtic striker Amido Baldé was to be involved in the lead up. He was able to dispossess an opposition player deep within SLNA’s half. The Guinea-Bissauan player then sent the ball forward towards Phạm Văn Thành (39), who out muscled SLNA defender Gustavo and fired a shot that went between the legs of SLNA goalkeeper Văn Hoàng and into the goal. 1-0 City and the bumper crowd at the Vinh Stadium was silenced. It was the first goal conceded by SLNA in almost 480 minutes of play and was the first goal conceded in the 2020 Season.
Phạm Văn Thành Scores City's Opener
SLNA reacted almost immediately to Văn Thànhh’s goal, with Peter Samuel was able to out muscle Hữu Tuấn (15) before firing his shot wide of the City goal in the 32nd minute. Despite their excellent defensive record, SLNA had only scored 3 goals in the league so far, and their profligacy was on show as they searched for that equaliser.
Five minutes later and it was Văn Đức's turn to try and miss. After initially dispossessing Diakité, the SLNA midfielder though he was through on goal only for the 'big man' in City's defence to recover and block the effort.
With five minutes left of the first half there was a moment of concern in the City ranks. Công Phượng (21) found Baldé. Unfortunately the big striker 'found' team mate Huy Toàn (16) who required medical attention.
Amido clashes with team mate Huy Toàn
The City man was able to see out the remainder of the first half and as the referee blew his whistle for half time, it was job half done for City.
Half Time : Sông Lam Nghệ An 0-1 Ho Chi Minh City
It was City who were to take the initiative in the second half going on the offensive with full gusto, doubling their lead in the 56th minute. Excellent play between Huy Toàn and Nguyễn Công Phượng (21) culminated in the latter scoring City’s second of the game. Having been born in Nghệ An Province and having spent a good chunk of his childhood there, Công Phượng refused to celebrate his goal out of respect.
Công Phượng Doubles City's Lead
City smelled blood and refused to let go of the gas and in the 61st minute, they were to triple their lead. Taking advantage of a skirmish within the SLNA penalty box, Baldé pounced upon the ball and slammed in City’s third of the day. 3-0 and City were cruising at the Vinh Stadium sending the small band of City fans into dream land.
Amido Baldé Makes It 3-nil to City
With a little over 20 minutes to go, Coach Chung made his first changes of the evening bringing on Xuân Nam (11) and Viết Phú (5) for Huy Toàn (16) and Văn Thành (39).
With eight minutes left it was almost four-nil to City. After being involved in a move moments before which saw Công Phượng miss out on his second, substitute Xuân Nam was to see his effort rebound off the host's crossbar and away to safety.
There was to be no repeat of the previous game which saw City score three goals, take three points and keep a clean sheet as the hosts were to grab a consolation goal with barely minutes left. Gustavo's header from close range went beyond Thanh Thắng’s reach and nestled in the back of the City goal.
Although disappointed to concede a late goal it was job well done and City were back on top of the league.
SLNA: Văn Hoàng, Đình Châu, Tuấn Tài, Văn Lắm, Đình Tiến, Đình Đồng, Văn Đức, Sỹ Nam, Peter, Bá Sang, Gustavo.
City: 1. Thanh Thắng, 2. Tùng Quốc, 6. Seo Yong Duk (9. Hoàng Thịnh 83mins), 7. Ngọc Đức (12. Đức Lương 83mins), 15. Hữu Tuấn, 16. Huy Toàn (11. Xuân Nam 68mins), 44. Diakite, 39. Văn Thành (5. Viết Phú 68mins), 14. Văn Thuận , 21. Công Phượng, 99. Amido Baldé (10. Phi Sơn 75mins).
Full Time : Sông Lam Nghệ An 1-3 Ho Chi Minh City