City overcome a spirited Phố Hiến FC 2-1 to earn an away tie with Viettel FC
City went into the game on the back of three back to back V-League 1 victories against a side which had yet to play a professional match having just been promoted from Vietnam's Second Tier to an expanded V-League 2.
As per the rules in the National Cup, which forbids the use of foreign players, it was a changed City team that lined up at the PVF Academy on Sunday night with strikers Matias and Joel missing the trip north. Kesley did make the trip courtesy of his Vietnamese passport but was to ultimately miss the game as he recovers from an injury sustained during the pre-season tournament at Thành Long Sports Centre.
There was expectation among the home fans that history could be made and the vast majority of the reported 2,000 crowd were certainly in good voice prior to kick-off.
Early expectation and any nerves that City might have been feeling were seemingly put to bed as early as the third minute. A misplaced clearance by Phố Hiến's captain No. 6 Lê Ngọc Bảo from a City freekick, found its way to City's No. 9 Ngô Hoàng Thịnh. His thunderbolt found its way into the top corner of the net giving Phố Hiến keeper Trương Thái Hiếu absolutely no chance. 1-0 City.
This should have settled the nerves and allowed City to manage the game against a youthful, skillfully competent opponent. However, it was the second division side that was to settle the quickest after the early set back and found themselves on level terms just 6 minutes later. And it was City's scorer who was involved in the equaliser. His clumsy challenge on Phố Hiến's No. 19 Nguyễn Minh Hiếu saw the referee correctly point to the penalty spot. Ex Sài Gòn FC player Nguyễn Xuân Nam (No. 11) made no mistake from the spot sending City keeper Nguyễn Thanh Thắng the wrong way. Both goals conceded by City this term have been from the penalty spot.
Phố Hiến were now growing in confidence and were beginning to cause City's defence problems. Especially on the break. However, City stood firm and regained the lead in the 17th minute from the head of No. 99 Phạm Văn Thành who followed up a rebound from City's earlier goalscorer No.9 Ngô Hoàng Thịnh. Phố Hiến's keeper Trương Thái Hiếu was unable to hold onto his free kick with the rebound bouncing nicely for Phạm Văn Thành who made no mistake. 2-1 City
On 36 minutes No. 99 Phạm Văn Thành almost made it 3-1 after receiving a pass from an impressive Vũ Quang Nam (No. 18). Unfortunately, his curling effort was saved by keeper Trương Thái Hiếu.
Half Time Phố Hiến FC 1 Ho Chi Minh City FC 2
The second half was largely a scrappy affair as Phố Hiến strove to find a way back into the tie. Chances were proving harder to come by. However, on 58 minutes City's Vũ Quang Nam really should have put the tie beyond the second division side. Unfortunately he was unable to convert the chance created by No. 81 Vũ Anh Tuấn's free kick. This miss seemed to revitalise the hosts. On 66 minutes, a clearance from City's No. 15 Nguyễn Hữu Tuấn was blocked by No. 8 Nguyễn Trọng Long. The loose ball finally fell at the feet of No. 11 Nguyễn Xuân Nam. His effort was brilliantly kept out of the City goal by the feet of City Man of the Match No. 1 Nguyễn Thanh Thắng.
The game was becoming stretched and challenges were becoming feisty. One such challenge on 85 minutes saw City's goalscorer No. 99 Phạm Văn Thành having to be replaced by No. 86 Huỳnh Văn Thanh. City were able to see out the rest of the game. Their reward. Another trip up north to Hanoi and a visit to newly promoted V-League 1 side Viettel FC. Tie to be played on Friday 28th June 2019.
Full Time Phố Hiến FC 1 Ho Chi Minh City FC 2
Phố Hiến FC
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