Its advantage Hà Nội as City endured a frustrating night at the SVĐ Thống Nhất before surrendering their unbeaten home record and top spot of the League after losing 1-2 to bottom of the table S. Khánh Hòa in Week 19 of the 2019 Wake-Up 247 V-League 1 season.

City's inability to take advantage of a multitude of opportunities was to ultimately seal their demise against a team struggling at the foot of the table.  A goal in the 5th minute of added time condemning City to their first home defeat of the season and allowed rivals Hà Nội to over take them at the top of the league table.

City were forced into making changes for this game due to the suspensions of midfielder Văn Thuận and striker Victor Mansaray.  Into the starting line up came Anh Tuấn (81) and Văn Thành (99).  After his head injury sustained against Hà Nội, Quang Nam (18) once again started from the bench.

Given the importance of the game for both sides, it was no surprise that the opening 5 minutes were error strewn with neither team able to find time on the ball.  It was the visitors who were to fashion the game's first half chance.  Following a cross by Ti Phông (7) the ball fell to Patiyo (43).  His effort deflected for a Khánh Hòa corner off the body of Christian (88).  The corner ultimately coming to nothing as Văn Vũ (2) blasted high over the City bar.

City had to wait until the 12th minute for their first effort on goal and it came via the boot of Hoàng Thịnh (9).  His free kick bouncing in front of Khánh Hòa's keeper Tuấn Mạnh (26) who pushed the ball away for a City corner.

City thought they had taken the lead in the 16th minute.  A quick break down City's right by Ismaheel (24) who was able to out pace his marker.  His cross was perfectly weighted for striking partner Kesley.  Unfortunately his effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by Zarour Chaer (93).  It was not going to be the only time this evening that City were to be denied by last ditch defending.  The resulting corner found Ismaheel in space who was unable to direct the ball goal wards from a great position.

City were beginning to find their rhythm in a game that was still frenetic at times.  As the game entered the 20th minute a long clearance from Christian almost put Ismaheel through again.  Zarour Chaer's clearance falling to Hoàng Thịnh (9) whose effort flashed narrowly past the visitor's goal.

It was City who were again to carve out the game's next opening.  Công Hiển's cross on 22 minutes being retrieved by Ngọc Đức (7).  A quick inter-play with Văn Thành (99) saw the ball almost drop to Ismaheel in the box.  The ball breaking free to Văn Thành who cut inside the area only to curl the ball over the visitor's bar.  It was going to be a continuing theme all evening of almost and nearly.

The visitors had the perfect opportunity to take the lead on 27 minutes.  A corner taken by Ti Phông (7) somehow found its way into the City box where it bounced invitingly for Đại Dương (38).  Somehow, the Khánh Hòa man managed to lift the ball over the City bar much to the angst of ‎Võ Đình Tân the Khánh Hòa manager who already thinks that there is a conspiracy against his club. 

Thirty six minutes in and another chance came and went for City.  Kesley fed Ismaheel on the edge of the box and although the tall striker was able to create a shooting opportunity he was unable to beat Tuấn Mạnh (26) at the near post who pushed the shot away for a City corner.

The game was crying out for a goal and it duly arrived in the 37th minute and it went to the City.  Ngọc Đức (7) played a lovely ball to Văn Thành (99) who was able to pick out Ismaheel in the centre of the visitors box.  The striker was able to control the ball before firing home to give City the lead.   HCMC FC 1-0 S. Khánh Hòa

The lead was almost short lived. Duy Thanh's (24) free kick being met by the head of Công Thành (29) whose header was well saved by Thanh Thắng (1) in the City goal.

Any thoughts that City were going to be able to see out the remainder of the first half were extinguished in the 41st minute.  A quick Khánh Hòa break saw the ball arriving at the feet of Patiyo (43).  A mix up between Christian and Hữu Tuấn (15) allowed the ball to run free where a waiting Duy Thanh (24) was able to smash the ball home from the edge of the box past a rooted Thanh Thắng.   HCMC FC 1-1 S. Khánh Hòa

Half Time : Ho Chi Minh City FC 1-1 S. Khánh Hòa

A point essentially being of no use for either side, for differing reasons, saw both teams adopt a more attacking approach in the second period. An approach which almost saw City take the lead immediately upon the restart.  A throw in by Ngọc Đức (7) found Hoàng Thiên (19) who had replaced Văn Thành (99) at the break.  He was inturn able to find Ismaheel.  His headed pass to Kesley allowed his striking partner the space to slip in Công Hiển (28).  Although his shot was well struck it was at a saveable height and Tuấn Mạnh wasable to turn the shot away for another City corner.  This was going to be the first in a number of missed City opportunities in what was to prove to be a frustrating second period.

With the game entering the final third, Công Hiển (28) saw an effort cleared of the visitor's goal line.  However, Kesley was in an offside position as the ball broke and the flag was correctly raised.   

The visitor's game plan was clear.  Hit City on the break.  City for their part were holding a high defensive line which was being well marshalled by Christian and Hữu Tuấn.

City thought they had made the all important breakthrough on 63 minutes.  A cross into the box by Hoàng Thiên (19) found Công Hiển (28) at the far post unmarked.  Unfortunately for City he was unable to stretch his legs long enough seeing the ball go agonizingly wide of the far post.  

A minute later and another opportunity came and went.  A shot by Hoàng Thiên (19) was deflected into the path of Ismaheel.  His effort lacked pace or conviction and was easily cleared with Hoàng Thịnh (9) all alone in the box.

City were to squander another opportunity in the 68th minute.  Hoàng Thiên found Kesley in space.  City's captain was able to look up and spot the run of Hoàng Thiên.  Although the ball was perfectly weighted, the header was off target.

Coach Chung Hae-soung made his second change of the night moments later sending on No. 8 Thanh Bình for Anh Tuấn (81) who had performed admirably in place of Văn Thuận.  

With 17 minutes left, City were to spurn two opportunities in quick succession.  First a delightful cross from Thanh Bình (8) found Hoàng Thiên (19) at the far post.  His downward header palmed away by the visitor's keeper.  Seconds later and this time it was Ngọc Đức (7) creating the opportunity.  This time Hoàng Thiên's effort was well wide of the mark with Kesley ready to pull the trigger.

As the game entered the final ten minutes, Thanh Bình (8) probably sensing the frustration inside the stadium tried his luck from 35 yards.  His effort wayward.  

Coach Chung played his final card on 81 minutes replacing Captain Kesley with Quang Nam (18).

With barely three minutes remaining of the ninety, Quang Nam almost won the points for City.  A long clearance from Hữu Tuấn (15) found the striker who was able to create space for a shot.  His effort well saved by the visiting stopper and pushed away for a City corner.  Thanh Bình's corner causing confusion in the visitor's box, Quang Nam once again seeing an effort deflected away to safety.  In the melee it appeared that Zarour Chaer (93) handled the ball which was missed by the referee who was standing only feet away.  Chances were coming and going for City who were running out of time to claim the three points necessary to regain top spot.

As the game entered the second of the five additional minutes another half chance presented itself to City. This time Ismaheel firing wide of the visitor's goal from 25 yards.

Christian was now playing upfront as a make shift striker and it was his overhead kick on 93 minutes which was to be the latest opportunity to come and go as City pressed hard for the victory.  

However, with barely seconds left it was City who were to be hit by a sucker punch.  Patiyo (43) was afforded far too much space receiving the ball from a free kick.  He was allowed time to look up and pick out an unmarked Đại Dương (38) at the far post who nodded the ball past a helpless Thanh Thắng.    HCMC FC 1-2 S. Khánh Hòa

There was barely time for City to restart as the visitors secured three vital points in their fight for survival and condemn City to their first home defeat of the season and seriously dent their title aspirations.

Full Time : Ho Chi Minh City FC 1-2 S. Khánh Hòa

Teams

HCMC FC : 1. Thanh Thắng, 7. Ngọc Đức, 15. Hữu Tuấn, 88. Epassi, 71. Công Thành, 81. Anh Tuấn (8. Thanh Bình 67mins), 9. Hoàng Thịnh, 99. Văn Thành (19. Hoàng Thiên 46mins), 28. Công Hiển, 77. Huỳnh Kesley Alves (18. Quang Nam 81mins), 24. Akinade Ismaheel

S. Khánh Hòa : 26. Tuấn Mạnh, 2. Văn Vũ, 29. Công Thành, 93. Zarour Chaer, 23. Trung Hiếu, 24. Duy Thanh (89. Hữu Khôi 65mins), 9. Đình Khương, 7. Ti Phông (27. Tùng Trần 83mins), 21. Toure Youssouf, 38. Đại Dương, 43. Patiyo Tambwe

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©2018 by Darren Smale