City scored a dramatic 97th minute equaliser to snatch a 2-2 draw against Championship rivals Hà Nội FC at the SVĐ Thống Nhất point and remain top of the League after Week 18 of the 2019 Wake-Up 247 V-League 1 season.
For the first time in many years a sold out Thống Nhất greeted both sets of players as they made their way onto the pitch for what many in the media had dubbed a 'Super Match' or the 'V-League Final'. Tickets were at a premium and going for at least 5 times the initial asking price. Two hours prior to kick off and queues were winding their way round the stadium and the crowd were not to be disappointed being rewarded with four goals, two sent off and a dog fouling the pitch prior to kick off.
City Coach Chung Hae-soung made three changes bringing into the starting XI : Hoàng Thịnh (9), Công Thành (71) and Club Captain Kesley (77) whilst Tùng Quốc (2), Quang Nam (18) and Anh Tuấn (81) dropped to the bench.
It was to be the visitors who were to start the brightest of the two teams, determined not to let City settle into their usual style. However, it was to be City who fashioned the game's first opportunity on 6 minutes. Văn Thuận (14) finding striker Công Hiển (28) whose effort flew over the bar.
Hà Nội's first chance came in the 13th minute. Following a corner Văn Đại (29) headed over whilst in a good position.
Chances were proving hard to come by and any opportunities were the result of mistakes. First on 19 minutes, Công Thành (71) was caught in possession by Quang Hải (19) who tried to slip in his striking partner Omar (20). Thankfully for City, Thanh Thắng (1) was alert to the danger.
A minute later and it was then the turn of the visiting keeper Văn Công to put his team under pressure. A cross from City's right by Ismaheel (24) should really have been a bread and butter catch. However, the keeper flapped at the ball nearly presenting Công Hiển (28) with an opportunity to open the scoring. The little striker was unable to turn the ball home from a tight angle.
City were now finding their stride and on 21 minutes it was Ismaheel himself who was having an attempt on goal. Latching onto a cross from Ngọc Đức (7), the striker attempted an overhead kick which sailed wide of the goal.
Two minutes later and following the breakdown of a Hà Nội attack, Mansaray (80) was able to break. His cross was just too high for Ismaheel to connect with.
The game's opening goal arrived a third of the way in and it went the way of the league leaders City. A long ball from Christian (88) was flicked on by Ismaheel (24). His flick on finding Kelsey who was brought down in the area by visiting keeper Văn Công. Kesley picking himself up to coolly slot home the spot kick to give City the lead on 30 minutes. HCMC FC 1-0 Hà Nội FC
The visitor's response was as expected going through their play maker Quang Hải (19). The idol of Vietnamese football was able to wriggle free of all challenges and create an opening which he duly flashed over the bar.
As the first half entered additional time both sides had opportunities to score. First it was the visitor's Văn Quyết (10) forcing City's stopper Thanh Thắng into a smart save. This was followed by City's Hoàng Thịnh (9) trying his luck from distance. His free kick being pushed out by Văn Công. City's Công Hiển (28) could only see his low effort cleared to safety.
Half Time : Ho Chi Minh City FC 1-0 Hà Nội FC
The second period started in a frantic fashion with both sides coming close in the opening 60 seconds of the restart. First it was City's Ismaheel who upon receiving a through ball from Kesley fired his effort straight at the visitor's keeper. From the clearance, Quang Hải (19) fed Văn Quyết (10) who, has per the previous City attempt, was straight at the keeper.
Five minutes into the half and it was the referee who was to take centre stage. A through ball by the visitor's Văn Hậu (5) bounced off Christian. As Văn Thuận (14) challenged for the ball with Văn Quyết (10) the City man caught the sliding Hà Nội midfielder. The referee deciding that the contact was worthy of a straight red. The decision prompting continued abuse from the home stands for the remaining 40 plus minutes as his decisions became more erratic and biased toward the side from the capital.
Coach Chung Hae-soung, possibly responding to the sending off made his first change of the evening replacing Captain Kesley (77) with local boy Thanh Bình (8) on 55 minutes.
The visitors almost made their man advantage count straight away. A corner taken by Quang Hải was partially cleared by Ngọc Đức. The ball falling to Văn Kiên (13) who fired over the City bar.
Two thirds in and the visitors had another opportunity to level things up. Omar (20) receiving the ball in the City box but, although he was able to turn, his shot was horribly wide.
It was all square however on 62 minutes. Quang Hải (19) collected a pass from Văn Quyết (10). His attempted flick rebounding off the head of an unlucky Hữu Tuấn (15) straight back into the path of the Hà Nội play maker. His low effort beating the despairing dive of Thanh Thắng in the City goal. HCMC FC 1-1 Hà Nội FC
Far from capitulating, it was City who had the chance to regain the lead. Thanh Bình's free kick on 64 minutes finding the head of Ismaheel who headed over the bar.
A minute later and the visitors did make their superior numbers count. Văn Hậu (5) fed an ever increasingly influential Văn Quyết (10). His cross finding Omar (20), sneaking in between Christian (88) and Công Thành (71), who slotted the ball home to turn the game on it's head. HCMC FC 1-2 Hà Nội FC
City have proven time and again this season that they are not a team that lies down easily. And once again they were to up the pace as they sought an equaliser to both maintain there place at the top of the league and their unbeaten home record.
Quang Hải (19) really should have put the game beyond City. After creating space on the edge of the City box the usually accurate midfielder fired the ball high and wide.
With less than 15 minutes on the clock, Coach Chung Hae-soung threw on Quang Nam (18) for Công Hiển (28). However, his time on the pitch was to last little over 7 minutes. Going into a challenge with Hà Nội's Văn Kiên (13) the City man was to come out the worse requiring treatment on the pitch before being carried off on a stretcher. He was later to receive stitches in a deep cut to the side of the head. Quang Nam being replaced by Văn Thành (99).
Hà Nội had one final opportunity to wrap up the three points. With barely 7 minutes left a venomous attempt came back off the City bar.
From there on and despite being down to 10 men it was City who were doing the attacking and looked the most likely to score next. A corner taken by Thanh Bình (8) found the head of Ismaheel (24). His header beating the keeper but not the defender on the line who was able to head over his own cross bar.
Four minutes left and another chance came the way of the hosts. Thanh Bình firing his free kick narrowly passed the post.
Hà Nội were now rocking and were in danger of causing their own downfall. Perhaps the memory of conceding goals late in two of the previous three games was still fresh in their minds. Failing to keep control of the ball they were conceding possession in dangerous areas. With time running out a throw in by Ngọc Đức (7) found Christian (88) who was allowed to turn and shoot. His effort easily saved.
Two minutes into the allotted five additional minutes, the referee decided to even up the numbers. City's Christian (88) went down under a challenge from Thành Chung (16) who had only been on the pitch for 5 minutes. The referee deciding that an elbow was used and showed his second straight red of the evening.
City were really pressing hard. First Ismaheel seeing his attempt deflected for a corner. Then Văn Thành (99) poking the ball agonisingly wide after a knock on from Mansaray (80).
Seven minutes into additional time and the night's forth goal did arrive and it came from bizarre circumstances. A Hà Nội throw in to a player who was taking a drink resulted in a City corner. Thanh Bình (8) swung the ball in, Công Thành (71) rose like a salmon and headed the ball home. Goal!!!!!!! HCMC FC 2-2 Hà Nội FC
FULL TIME : Ho Chi Minh City FC 2-2 Hà Nội FC
HCMC FC : 1. Thanh Thắng, 7. Ngọc Đức, 9. Hoàng Thịnh, 14. Văn Thuận, 15. Hữu Tuấn, 24. Ismaheel, 28. Công Hiển (18. Quang Nam 76 mins, 99. Văn Thành 83 mins), 71. Công Thành, 77. Kesley (8. Thanh Bình 55 mins), 80. Mansaray, 88. Christian
Hà Nội FC : 30. Văn Công, 5. Văn Hậu, 10. Văn Quyết, 13. Văn Kiên (4. Văn Dũng 96 mins), 18. Tiến Thành, 19. Quang Hải, 20. Omar, 28. Duy Mạnh, 29. Văn Đại (16. Thành Chung 86 mins), 74. Thái Quý (38. Papa 55 mins), 88. Hùng Dũng
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