City slipped further behind Hà Nội in the race for the Championship going down 0-2 to Quảng Nam at the SVĐ Tam Kỳ in Week 20 of the 2019 Wake-Up 247 V-League 1 season.

A goal in each half, the first a highly controversial penalty in first half stoppage time, was enough to condemn City to their second defeat on the trot and put a serious dent in their title aspirations.  

A game that was always going to prove difficult was made that much more harder when on 46 minutes, referee Nguyễn Đình Thái inexplicably, and to the utter astonishment of the City defence, pointed to the spot for an offence which clearly took place outside of the box.  Up to this point their was nothing to suggest that City were not going to take the three points.

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Referee Nguyễn Đình Thái before the game

Coach Chung Hae-soung made four changes for a game which City could really ill afford to lose if they were to maintain their challenge at the top of the table.  Into the Starting XI came Tùng Quốc (2), Thanh Bình (8), Quang Nam (18) and Mansaray (80).  Dropping to the bench went Công Hiển (28), Anh Tuấn (81) and Văn Thành (99).  Công Thành (71) was missing due to picking up his third yellow card of the season in last week's defeat to S. Khánh Hòa.  

The opening ten minutes was largely an uneventful period.  Kesley's (77) snatch shot on 2 minutes and a half chance for the host's No 11 Dias which he completely miscued being the only moments of note.

The game almost burst into life in the 11th minute.  Mansaray (80) dispossessed Samson on the edge of the City box.  After a mazy run he was able to find striking partner Ismaheel (24).  His attempted cross was cleared for a City throw in with Kesley waiting in oceans of space.  The subsequent throw in taken by Tùng Quốc (2) was met by the head of Ismaheel whose header was wide of the intended target.

The following ten minutes were pretty much a repeat of the first 10.  A lot of movement with next to no end product for either team.  The majority of City's moves were coming through Mansaray who was returning after missing the previous week's defeat due to suspension.  Quảng Nam almost fashioned an opening on the twenty minute mark but Da Silva's (24) effort was easily cleared by Christian (88). 

Opportunities for either side were proving hard to come by.  The host's saw a headed effort go over the bar from Minh Tuấn (9) on 24 minutes under pressure from City's No 2 Tùng Quốc.  Moments later and a quick City move involving Thanh Bình (8) and that man Mansaray found Kesley in space.  However, a lack of movement/options in the box saw City's captain easily dispossessed. 

City almost took the lead in the 28th minute.  A quick break following a Quảng Nam corner saw Quang Nam (18) feed Ngọc Đức (7).  He was able to find Ismaheel in space.  His effort however, was blocked by Đức Lộc (38) and Văn Cường (25) in the City goal was able to parry the ball before collecting. 

Quang Nam's Đức Lộc was the first player in the referee's book for a crude challenge on Kesley as the game completed it's first third.  Christian was going to follow the lead and was duly yellow carded in the 35th minute for a awkward tackle on the host's Minh Tuấn (9).

As the clock ticked toward the one minute allotted injury time, it appeared only a mistake or a set piece would separate the two teams.  Luckily for the hosts they were going to get both.  Spotting a foul by City's No 2 Tùng Quốc on Gabriel, the referee pointed to the spot although the incident clearly took place outside the box.  

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A penalty or not a penalty ....... ?

Ex-Hà Nội striker Samson (39) coolly slotted the ball past the despairing dive of City keeper Thanh Thắng who up to this point had largely been a spectator.    Quảng Nam FC 1-0 HCMC FC

Half Time : Quảng Nam FC 1-0 Ho Chi Minh City FC

Five minutes into the second half and City almost had an opportunity to get back into the game and with it the title race.  A long freekick by Hữu Tuấn (15) was met by the head of Ismaheel would continually won his aerial battles.  Unfortunately he was unable to direct his header either toward the goal or to the waiting Mansaray, much to his frustration.

 

City were making all the running and created another opening a couple of minutes later.  Another quick break allowed Ismaheel time to pick out Kelsey.  The striker choosing to shoot from distance rather than play in an increasingly frustrated Mansaray.

As the game entered the final third, City for all their ball domination were being restricted to long range efforts.  Mansaray trying his luck from distance, his shot being deflected for a City corner which ultimately came to nothing.

City's first change came on 62 minutes with Hoàng Thiên (19) coming on to replace Kesley (77).  

Mansaray was continuing to be the man most likely to unlock the Quảng Nam defence and he was involved in City's next attempt.  Receiving the ball inside his own half, Mansaray was able to weave his way into the final third of the pitch.  His pass finding the newly introduced Hoàng Thiên (19) whose attempt was unfortunately high and not so handsome.

Quảng Nam were for their part appeared happy to sit back and attempt to hit City on the break, relying on the pace of Samson and any potential gaps left by the City defence as they pushed forward seeking a route back into the game.

The hosts nearly doubled their advantage in the 68th minute.  Following another City attack, Quảng Nam were able to break.  Thanh Trung (7) feeding Dias (11) who really should have done better with his effort which was easily saved by City's (and possibly Vietnam's) number 1 keeper Thanh Thắng.

With eighteen minutes remaining City had a glorious opportunity to level the game.  A good move between Thanh Bình (8) and Hoàng Thiên (19) saw the former receive the ball in the middle of the Quảng Nam area.  Unfortunately the midfielder was unable to make any contact as he completely missed the ball. 

The hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 77th minute when Đức Lộc (38) received his second yellow card for a foul on Mansaray who was about to break free into the box.  Although this foul took place and the player ended up in the same place as Tùng Quốc's (2) earlier foul on Gabriel.  This time the referee deemed the it a free kick and not a penalty.  

Coach Chung Hae-soung chose this moment to change things up on the pitch bringing on Anh Tuấn (81) in place of Thanh Bình (8).

Time was beginning to be against City as they tried to rescue something from the game.  A game which truthfully was City's for the taking.  However, as the game entered the final ten minutes it was the hosts who nearly scored the game's next goal.  Gabriel (8) was able to make a fine run down the Quảng Nam left, his cross was dummied by Samson in the middle with the ball falling at the feet of an unmarked Thanh Trung (7).  Fortunately for City, his shot was straight at Thanh Thắng who was able to save easily.

 

Thanh Thắng's throw was too strong for Ngọc Đức (7) going out for a Quảng Nam throw in.  Coach Chung Hai-soung used this break to introduce Tăng Tiến (4) into the game replacing Christian (88) who had once again put absolutely everything into the game.

 

The hosts were retreating deeper and deeper restricting any space for City to exploit. City were beginning to look a little frustrated as they sought a way to break through being restricted to long hopeful balls.    

 

With less than two minutes remaining City has a glorious chance to snatch at least a point from a game which penalty aside, they should have been winning. A cross from City's right was perfect for Ismaheel who barely had to move.  Unfortunately for both the striker and his team mates his header was off target sailing harmlessly over the bar.

With the game entering the first of the five allotted 'extra' minutes, City had a couple of half chances. Ngọc Đức (7) found Anh Tuấn (81) on City's left.  His cross finding its way to Hoàng Thiên (19).  His shot, initially blocked, fell to Tăng Tiến (4) whose effort was deflected wide for a Quảng Nam goal kick.  Time was beginning to slip away. 

City were still pressing and still creating half chances.  A corner taken by Anh Tuấn (81) was met by the head of Tăng Tiến (4).  Although his header was well directed it was saved by the feet of Văn Cường (25) in the Quảng Nam goal with Ismaheel waiting to pounce.  

 

As the game entered the third minute of the five Quảng Nam got the break away they were hoping for and made the game safe.  A long City ball was cleared to Samson (39) who found team mate Hồng Sơn (73) in the middle of the park.  He was able to feed Samson who out paced the City defence and after rounding Thanh Thắng slotted the ball home for both his and the host's second goal of the game.   Quảng Nam FC 2-0 HCMC FC

City continued to press and saw three more half chances pass in quick succession.  With the clock seriously against City, Quang Nam (18) found Hoàng Thịnh (9) his shot deflected for a corner.   Anh Tuấn (81) swung the ball in which eluded every one but instead of finding the net, hit the post and rebounded to safety.  Seconds later and another cross from Anh Tuấn found the head of striker Ismaheel.  Once again the header went agonizingly wide of the goal with the keeper well beaten.

There was no more time for City who with this defeat saw their title aspirations seriously dented.  However, if there is two things that this City side has shown is fight and spirit.  It was a very disconsulate City team that greeted the fans prior to leaving the park.

Full Time : Quảng Nam FC 2-0 Ho Chi Minh City FC

Teams

Quảng Nam FC : 25. Văn Cường, 30. Viết Tú, 38. Đức Lộc, 24. Da Silva, 6. Hữu Phước (73. Hồng Sơn, 84mins), 92. Anh Hùng, 7. Thanh Trung (10 Đình Thắng 91mins), 8. Gabriel, 9. Minh Tuấn (21. Mạnh Toàn, 78mins), 39. Samson, 11. Dias

HCMC FC : 1. Thanh Thắng, 15. Hữu Tuấn, 2. Tùng Quốc, 7. Ngọc Đức, 88. Ewonde (4. Tăng Tiến, 81mins), 8. Thanh Bình (81. Anh Tuấn, 77mins), 9. Hoàng Thịnh, 18. Quang Nam, 80. Mansary, 77. Huỳnh Kesley (19. Hoàng Thiên, 62mins), 24. Akinade

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©2018 by Darren Smale