Ho Chi Minh City win in Pleiku to make it two wins from two
Both teams went into this match on the back of opening day victories. Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) winning 4-1 away to Sanna Khánh Hòa whilst City had to wait until the 92nd minute to defeat Hải Phòng FC 1-0 at home.
The victory over Sanna Khánh Hòa had raised expectations with the locals to almost fever pitch. However, City, led by former HAGL Technical Director Chung Hae-Seong, were well prepared.
Although, as expected, HAGL had most of the early possession, it was City who fashioned the game's first chance. In the 7th minute, a City corner was met by No. 94 Joel whose header went over the HAGL bar. HAGL's game plan seemed to focus on the wing play of No. 9 Nguyễn Văn Toàn and the strength of No. 10 Chevaughn Walsh. City's disciplined defence were however able to contain these twin threats. Indeed, the game's next real opportunity once again fell to City. No. 11 Matias was able to chase down a loose ball from an HAGL defense intent on living dangerously. Although Matias was able to round the keeper and centre the ball, No. 94 Joel was unable to connect cleanly and the danger was cleared.
HAGL, for all their possession, had to wait until the 17th minute for their first opportunity. A quick break down the left wing saw the ball threaded across the City box. The ball finally falling to No. 10 Chevaughn Walsh who shot wide.
On 36 minutes HAGL's No. 18 Hoàng Thanh Tùng broke free into the City box. However, his shot was high over the City bar. Hoàng Thanh Tùng's blushes were spared by the linesman's flag which was raised for offside. HAGL were now very much on the front foot and looking to break the deadlock before the break. On 45 minutes, No. 9 Nguyễn Văn Toàn worked his way into the City box but, unfortunately for HAGL but good for City, his cross was over hit and No. 10 Chevaughn Walsh was unable to reach the free ball.
HALF TIME Hoàng Anh Gia Lai 0 Ho Chi Minh City 0
City, having subdued the home side during the first half, started the second on a more positive note. City's attacking intent and fast moving play was beginning to cause HAGL problems and it was no real surprise when in the 55th minute City were to take the lead. From a throw in, HAGL's No. 5 Phạm Hoàng Lâm misdirected his header, Matias (11) was able to pick up the ball and find No. 9 Ngô Hoàng Thịnh on the edge of the HAGL box who coolly slotted the ball home to give City the lead 1-0.
Seven minutes later and the lead was doubled. City's No. 17 Nguyễn Minh Trung was able to rob HAGL's No. 3 Nguyễn Hữu Anh Tài of the ball. Although HAGL had two players back, No. 5 Phạm Hoàng Lâm and No. 90 Kim Bong-jin, they were unable to prevent the ball reaching City's No. 94 Joel who slotted home. 2-0 City.
HAGL's response was almost immediate. A clever little dinked ball from No. 18 Hoàng Thanh Tùng found No. 10 Chevaughn Walsh who calmly finished. However, City were rescued by the linesman's flag. A decision which was tight by anyone's book!!
HAGL were breally pressing hard now as time began to ebb away. However, it was City who were almost to score the game's next goal. No. 28 Công Hiển Phạm, who had been a livewire all game, broke into the HAGL box. However, with players in the box to choose from, Công Hiển Phạm selected to shoot which was saved by keeper No. 1 Wieger Sietsma.
HAGL were to be offered a lifeline on 88 minutes when after what appeared to be a nothing tangle between City's No. 4 Nguyễn Tăng Tiến and HAGL's No. 8 Trần Minh Vương resulted in the referee pointing to the spot. HAGL's No. 9 Nguyễn Văn Toàn calmly slotted home to give those home supporters still in the ground some hope.
There was time for HAGL's No. 5 Phạm Hoàng Lâm to be shown a second yellow card for a challange on City's Matias and for one last shot on gol by No. 10 Walsh who saw his shot easily saved by City's keeper No. 1 Nguyễn Thanh Thắng.
FULL TIME Hoàng Anh Gia Lai 1 Ho Chi Minh City 2
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