Ho Chi Minh City make it three from three as Nam Định are guilty of wasteful finishing.
City went into Tuesday night's game on the crest of a wave and looking to win three games on the trot for the first time since 2017. Nam Định were looking to bounce back after suffering a 1-2 defeat away to Hải Phòng FC in Week 2.
And it was the visitors who started the brightest. City appeared to be suffering from nerves and their early play was edgy and littered with unforced errors. It came as no surprise when in the 11th minute Nam Định were to fashion the game's first real chance. Nam Định's No. 10 Mạnh Hùng was able to play a sharp ball into the City area which was met by the head of Patiyo (9). Unfortunately for Nam Định his header was wayward.
City were struggling to find any real rhythm in their play. Matias (11) and Joel (94) were trying to find and play the spaces behind the Nam Định defence but time and time again the play was broken up. Nam Định were at this stage happy to concede midfield possession and stage counter attacks. It was therefore of no real surprise that the games next opportunity also fell to the visitors. In the 29th minute, Nam Định's Diogo (11) was presented with a headed opportunity. Luckily for City, No. 1 Thành Thắng was having an inspired night in the City goal and saved the goal-bound header.
City, for all their possession were still finding it difficult to threaten the visitor's goal. City's cause was not helped by the loss of Minh Trung (17) who had to be replace by Ngọc Đức (7) in the 28th minute through injury.
On 43 minutes though it was all to change. As people started to check their watches and consider their half time options, City, against the run of play, were to break the deadlock. Joel (94) was able to thread the ball delightfully through the Nam Định defence. His pass was perfectly weighted for Văn Thành (99) to cushion the pass and slot the ball past ex City keeper No. 56 Xuân Việt. 1-0 to City.
Half Time Ho Chi Minh City FC 1 Nam Định FC 0
The second half started with City seemingly freed up by the goal. However, it was still Nam Định who looked likeliest to score the next goal. A better more organised City defence plus the goalkeeping of No. 1 Thành Thắng kept City's lead intact.
Coach Chung Hae-soung decided to change things around and in the 57th minute withdrew Anh Tuấn (81) replacing him with Thanh Bình (8). This was to prove to be a shrewd move on the coach's part for it was to be Thanh Bình who was to score the game's next goal and again Joel (94) was to be involved.
Starting from a quick counter attack in the 79th minute, the ball found its way to Joel who in turn was able to thread a pass through to Thanh Bình. The move was completed with a neat finish pass Nam Định's keeper Xuân Việt. 2-0 City.
City pushed hard for a third goal to totally kill off the game but their was to be no more scoring.
Victory not only saw City win three games on the trot but also secured their place at the summit of V-League 1 as the season heads into an international break.
Full Time Ho Chi Minh City FC 2 Nam Định FC 0
HCMC FC : 1 Thành Thắng, 28 Công Hiển, 20 Ngọc Thịnh, 15 Hữu Tuấn, 71 Công Thành; 99 Văn Thành (18 Quang Nam 80’), 9 Hoàng Thịnh, 81 Anh Tuấn (8 Thanh Bình 57’), 17 Minh Trung (7 Ngọc Đức 28’), 11 Matias, 94 Vinicius.
Nam Định FC : 56 Xuân Việt; 32 Mạnh Cường (30 Thế Vương 60’); 20 Agbaji, 18 Lê Văn Phú, 38 Quốc Hường; 99 Văn Trường, 10 Mạnh Hùng, 16 Đình Mạnh, 29 Hạ Long (28 Minh Tuấn 82’), 9 Patiyo, 11 Diogo.
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