City returned to the SVĐ Thống Nhất, to winning ways and to the top of the League after a hard fought 2-0 victory over B. Bình Dương in Week 15 of the 2019 Wake-Up 247 V-League 1.

City went into the first of two home games knowing that a positive response was necessary if they were to keep the pressure on Championship rivals Hà Nội FC who were due to play bottom of the table Sanna Khánh Hòa on Saturday night.

There were four changes from the side that had lost to Viettel FC the previous weekend.  Into the starting XI came Tùng Quốc (2), Thanh Bình (8), Hoàng Thiên (19) and Văn Thành (99).  Dropping to the bench went Ngọc Đức (7), Văn Thuận (14), Minh Trung (17) and Công Hiển (28).  Changes made more out of recognition of workload rather than performance.  There were also home debuts for both Ismaheel and Mansaray who up to now had wore the away strip of City in their northern travels.

More than 6,000 were at the SVĐ Thống Nhất and those of a City persuasion did not have to wait long to get the homecoming party started.  With barely 2 minutes on the clock, a long ball by Tùng Quốc (2) allowed Ismaheel (24) to out pace and out power Bình Dương's Thanh Long and slide the ball beautifully under the visitor's goalkeeper and into the back of the net.  HCMC FC 1-0 B. Bình Dương.

If the home fans thought that this was going to open the floodgates they had failed to factor in the visitor's recent good form.  In the fifth minute, a delightful cross for Văn Vũ (28) found Rabo Ali (88) all alone in City's box.  However, he was unable to control the ball and his scuffed attempt went harmlessly wide.  Then away side were however continuing to look the most dangerous of the two teams.  On 7 minutes a freekick needlessly conceded by Christian (88) was floated into the City box.  Helped on by Anh Đức (11) the ball fell kindly to Wander Luiz (10) whose effort was superbly saved by the ever impressive Thanh Thắng (1).  The rebound falling to Anh Đức who could only hit the City upright under pressure from stand in Captain Hữu Tuấn (15). 

With thirteen minutes on the clock, it was Pedro Augusto's (19) turn to test the agility of the City keeper.  His powerful header from a Văn Vũ (28) cross being pushed away equally powerfully and cleared to safety.  Two minutes later and it was Augusto's striking partner Wander Luiz's (10) turn to threaten the City goal.  A quick pass by Hồ Tấn Tài (4) found Wander Luiz.  Fortunately the strike from the edge of the box was always curling away from goal.

City were determined not to let the visitors dictate the play and in the 19th minute, a run and cross by Văn Thành (99) was met by the lively looking Ismaheel.  His acrobatic effort curling wide of the post with Tấn Trường (1) in the Bình Dương goal rooted to the spot.

Twenty minutes in and the visitors had created and wasted another chance.  A free kick, once again surrendered by Christian who appeared to be a marked man, was met by the head of Wander Luiz.  His header flying high and wide.

Almost thirty minutes in and Thanh Bình (8) became City's first man in a the book of what was becoming an over zealous refereeing performance.

Another needless foul, this time conceded by Mansaray (80), allowed the visitors to threaten the City goal.  Lê Tấn Tài (14) took a quick free kick finding Văn Vũ (28) in acres of space.  His shot flying very high and not so handsome.  Surely it was only going to be a matter of time before the visitors finally found their shooting boots.

Bình Dương's Captain and U23 star Anh Đức (11) was lucky to escape with just a yellow card on 35 minutes following a reckless two footed sliding challenge on City's Công Thành (71) which left the City man in agony.  Perhaps due to who he was or the un-official rule that you cannot send off U23 stars, spared Anh Đức the red card.

With two minutes left of the first period, the visitors had and wasted another glorious opportunity to level the scores.  Wander Luiz was found all alone in the centre of the City box, his header brilliantly saved by City's keeper Thanh Thắng.  However, the ball fell to  Văn Vũ (28) who fluffed his lines completely and the chance went begging.  There was still time for the visitors to waste yet another chance.  This time Văn Vũ turned provider feeding Anh Đức.  His effort, like those of his team mates, going high over the City bar.


Half Time : Ho Chi Minh City 1 -0 B. Bình Dương

City started the second as they started the first, on the front foot.  Two minutes in and Thanh Bình (8) sent Hoàng Thiên (19) away down City's right.  Hoàng Thiên cut inside but his shot was easily saved by Tấn Trường in the visitors goal.  Soon, however the visitors had created and wasted yet another chance.  A cross into the City area by Trung Tín (20) found the head of Anh Đức.  Again his header lacked direction.

The game was becoming more open.  On 51 minutes Wander Luiz broke through the City defence and only a rather clumsy last minute challenge by the ever impressive Hữu Tuấn (15) prevented the opportunity from developing.  City countered and a defence splitting pass by Văn Thành (99) put Ismaheel through.  This time however his shot was saved.

Coach Chung Hae-soung made his first change of the night on 55 minutes introducing Văn Thuận (14) for Hoàng Thiên (19).

Thanh Bình (8) launched City on another attack.  His pass sent Ismaheel (24) away down City's right who was able to find Văn Thành (99).  Văn Thành set up Hoàng Thịnh (9) whose shot was wide of the mark.

On 58 minutes, City defender Christian (88) appeared to over stretch whilst attempting to clear the ball requiring treatment on thwe sidelines.

Club Captain Kesley (77) was introduced in the 63rd minute replacing Văn Thành (99) who had up to then had a fine game.  Kesley's introduction seemed to instill new life and confidence into City's play.  Passing became more assured and movement faster.  

Twenty minutes to go and an inswinging freekick by Văn Thuận (14) was met by a raising Ismaheel.  His header matching the projectory of the player and kept on raising.

With Christian receiving treatment behind the City goal, the visitors had the chance to take advantage.  Tuấn Cảnh (24) who had earlier replaced Trọng Huy (23) on 66 minutes, met the ball on the edge of the six yard box but his header was straight at Thanh Thắng.

With little under a quarter of an hour remaining, Văn Thuận intercepted a pass and set Ismaheel free.  Ismaheel beat the out rushing Bình Dương keeper to the ball and in turn fed a waiting Kesley.  His turn and shot narrowly missing the far post. 

Coach Chung Hae-soung made his final change on 80 minutes introducing Ngọc Đức (7) for a tiring Thanh Bình (8)

Both teams were striving to get the all important next goal for different reasons.  City to secure the three points and the visitors to rescue a point.  Seven minutes to go and City almost succeeded in putting the game beyond Bình Dương.  Kesley laid the ball off to Mansaray who, having an impressive home debut, created some space and tried his luck from the edge of the box.  Firing narrowly wide.

Next it was Ngọc Đức's turn to test his luck.  After receiving the ball from Văn Thuận (14) Ngọc Đức chose to shoot rather than feed Văn Thuận who had continued his run into the middle of the visitors box.

With the clock beginning to tick down, Wander Luiz was given a perfect opportunity to equalise.  However, after being fed the ball from Anh Đức (11) the strikers shot was wide of the City goal.

Tempers were beginning to frey with both Văn Vũ (28), for a reckless challange on City's No 71 Công Thành and Hồ Tấn Tài (4), for appearing to kick the ball into the face of Công Thành as he laid on the floor were fortunate not to receive a card of some colour.

Moments later and it was 2-0.  A quick passing move between City's Tùng Quốc (2) and Kesley (77) saw the latter release Mansaray down the wing.  He was able to cut inside and his low cross was turned into his own net by the outstretched leg of Hồ Tấn Tài.  HCMC FC 2-0 B. Bình Dương

There was still time left for one last moment of drama.  Anh Đức's (11) over the shoulder effort rebounded off the City post and appeared to cross the line before being scooped out by Thanh Thắng.  Neither the referee or the referee's assistant being properly placed to give a decision.  

With that went any chance of a Bình Dương fight back and City secured the three points necessary to send them back to the summit of the table.  

Full Time : Ho Chi Minh City 2 -0 B. Bình Dương


HCMC FC : 1. Thanh Thắng, 2. Tùng Quốc, 88. Ewonde, 8. Thanh Bình (7. Ngọc Đức 80mins), 15. Hữu Tuấn, 9. Hoàng Thịnh, 19. Hoàng Thiên (14. Văn Thuận 57mins), 71. Công Thành, 99. Văn Thành (77. Kesley 63mins), 80. Mansaray, 24. Ismaheel.

B. Bình Dương: 1. Tấn Trường, 4. Hồ Tấn Tài, 23. Trọng Huy (24. Tuấn Cảnh 66mins), 28. Văn Vũ, 20. Trung Tín (5. Xuân Luân 61mins), 7. Thanh Long (2. Hùng Thiện Đức 51mins), 14. Lê Tấn Tài, 19. Pedro Augusto, 11. Anh Đức, 10. Wander Luiz, 88. Rabo Ali.

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©2018 by Darren Smale