Despite a spirited performance, City's Champions League Journey came to an end at the Chang Arena tonight going down 1-2 against a full strength Buriram United side which included its Thai International stars Supachok Sarachat and Supachai Jaided.
City came into tonight's game knowing that history was in the making. City were to be without Club Captain Đỗ Văn Thuận and defensive giant Nguyễn Hữu Tuấn who were both carrying knocks. The team did however include new boys Nguyễn Công Phượng (21), Viktor Prodell (22) and Papé Diakité (44). There was also the return of striker Matias (68) playing his first competitive match since the early stages of V-League 2019. There was also a first competitive start for defender Đức Lương (12) who had impressed in the friendlies after joining City from Hoàng Anh Gia Lai during the close season.
City's Starting XI : 1. Thanh Thắng, 7. Ngọc Đức, 20. Ngọc Thịnh, 44. Papé Diakité, 12. Đức Lương, 10. Phi Sơn (Capt), 9. Hoàng Thịnh, 81. Anh Tuấn, 21. Công Phượng, 68, Matias Jadue, 22. Viktor Prodell
The home side although enjoying plenty of early possession, which was partly due to City’s pragmatic game plan, struggled to create any meaningful chances in the final third. City's defence, marshalled by Diakité, who was to have a very successful debut, repelling anything the Thai giants had to throw at them.
There were bits of individual quality from Supachok, Cuesta, and Bueno but they were few and far between.
The first major chance of the game actually fell to City in the 21st minute and it fell to City's Captain for the night Trần Phi Sơn (10) after Buriram United's fullback Sasalak Haiprakhon miss-controlled the ball horribly. Unfortunately for City, Phi Sơn's attempt was blocked by Pansa Hemviboon after the City captain had rounded the helpless Sivaruck Tedsungnoen in the Buriram goal.
With two target man leading the line, City at times resorted to route-one football. Matias' tussle with Buriram's Andrés Túñez setting the early tone for the first half. It was the tussle between the two that lead to the game's next major chance and again it came City's way. Jadue drew a foul from Tùñez in the 28th minute on the edge of the box with Ngô Hoàng Thịnh (9) smashing the ball against the host's crossbar.
Half Time : Buriram United FC 0-0 Ho Chi Minh City FC
After the break, Buriram's Rattanakorn Maikami adopted a more conservative role, holding his position in the central right area, allowing right-back Narubadin Weerawatnodom freedom to move forward – a move which ultimately resulted in the opening goal of the game in the 53rd minute. Supachok set Narubadin free with a neat give-and-go, and the Thai international’s low-cross found Cuesta for a simple finish from the edge of the six-yard box which gave City keeper Thanh Thắng no chance. Buriram United 1-0 Ho Chi Minh City
The goal seemed to galvanize the hosts whilst unsettling the visitors. The crowd, who had been noisy and enthusiastic all evening nothed up the volume even more so. Drowning out the efforts of the travelling City faithful. On the hour mark Buriram's Thai international Supachok slipped past four opposition players. However, his shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide by the ever impressive Papé Diakité.
Coach Chung Hae-soung made his first change of the night in the 73rd minute bringing on Amido Baldé (99) for his City debut replacing Anh Tuấn (81). However, Buriram United were to double their lead moments later, in the 74th minute, via Ricardo Bueno’s goal-mouth volley following a corner kick which was only partially cleared. Buriram United 2-0 Ho Chi Minh City
City are a team that does not go down without a fight, a trait that served them well in 2019 and one that appears to be alive and well in 2020. In the 77th minute, a corner taken by Trần Phi Sơn (10) was cleared only to the edge of the Buriram area. The subsequent cross, again from the feet of Phi Sơn, finding the head of Papé Diakité at the back post who was able to steer the ball into the host's net and in doing so, brought City right back into the game. Buriram United 2-1 Ho Chi Minh City
City now smelled blood winning another freekick in a dangerous position. Unfortunately, Ngọc Thịnh's (20) venomous volley from an attempted clearance flew straight at keeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen in the Buriram goal. Công Phượng (21) was to be City's first yellow card recipient of the night going into Ahmad A'Qashah's book in the 80th minute. Not the card City's new boy wanted on his birthday.
Coach Chung made two final substitutions in an attempt to change things in City's favour. On 85 minutes Ngô Tùng Quốc (2) replaced Phi Sơn (10) and a minute later Văn Thành (39) came on to replace the tiring Công Phượng (21).
Unfortunately, City were unable to find that elusive equaliser and with the referee blowing his whistle Chung Hae-soung's men knew that they would be competing in the AFC Cup Group F.
Papé Diakité brings City back into the game.
Final Score : Buriram United FC 2-1 Ho Chi Minh City FC
Match Photos - Courtesy of CLB BÓNG ĐÁ TP.HCM Offical Facebook page