Goals either side of half time from striking duo Mansaray and Ismaheel secure City's first ever victory at SVĐ Vinh and see the gap at the top of the league table cut to 2 points in Week 22 of the 2019 Wake-Up 247 V-League 1 season.
City went into the game knowing that really only a victory would suffice if they were to stay in touch with Hà Nội at the top of the table. History however was against City who had previously never beaten the hosts at home.
City made two changes from the team that had beaten Than Quảng Ninh the previous weekend. In came Nos. 8 Thanh Bình and 24 Akinade Ismaheel. Out went Văn Thuận (14) who was suspended and Tùng Quốc (2) who dropped to the bench.
Given the importance to the game for City it was however the hosts who started the brightest and within the opening couple of minutes had fashioned the games opening chance. A free kick 22 yards out was taken by Khắc Ngọc (12). His effort, although directed well was brilliantly saved by City's stopper Thanh Thắng who got down low to push the ball away to safety.
Both teams then settled into a period of probing, trying to find weaknesses in the other's defense without really creating much and it was in the the 24th minute that the game's second real chance presented itself. Once again it was the home side to threaten the score board. Anh Tuấn (81) lost the ball on the half way line to Nghệ An's Khắc Ngọc (12). He was allowed to advance unchallenged and tried his luck from the edge of the City area. Once again his effort was saved by Thanh Thắng who pushed the ball away for a SLNA corner.
The hosts were not going to be denied for much longer and it came via a City defensive mistake. In the 28th minute a through ball by Olaha was misjudged by the usually reliable Hữu Tuấn (15) who missed the ball allowing it to fall to SLNA's Xuân Mạnh (11). He was able to beat City's keeper to the ball and as he rounded the keeper up popped Tuấn Tài (10) to slot the ball home. SLNA 1-0 HCMC FC
Five minutes later and it was almost 2 nil to the hosts. A floated cross into the City area found its way to Tuấn Tài (10) who was able to steal in between Ngọc Đức (7) and Hữu Tuấn (15). His effort was brilliantly saved by Thanh Thắng who was by far the busier of the two keepers. The rebound was lofted to the far post where Xuân Mạnh (110 was able to find Olaha. Fortunately for City his effort was blocked and Thanh Bình (8) cleared to safety.
With seven minutes left of the half and the game was turned on its head. As a City corner was floated into the SLNA area by Anh Tuấn (81), striker Mansaray went down seemingly pushed by a Nghệ An defender. However the referee played on with the ball falling at the feet of Ismaheel (24). His goal bound effort stopped on the line by the arm of Quang Tình (28) who was shown a straight red for his efforts. Penalty for City. Up stepped Mansaray who fired the ball home high to the keeper's left. SLNA 1-1 HCMC FC
Half Time : Sông Lam Nghệ An 1-1 Ho Chi Minh City FC
Possibly with one eye on the title race, Coach Chung Hae-soung made a double change during the half-time break bringing on Hoàng Thịnh (9) and Christian (88) for Anh Tuấn (81) and Ngọc Thịnh (20) respectively.
Despite being a man down it was the hosts who were nearly to retake the lead. A lofted clearance found Xuân Mạnh (110 who was able to beat City's offside trap. With only Thanh Thắng to beat the Nghệ An man contrived to lift the ball high over the City crossbar.
In the 78th minute the turn around was complete and the title race was back on. Half Time substitute Hoàng Thịnh (9) found the recently introduced Hoàng Thiên (19) who had replaced ex-local boy Quang Nam (18). His delightful cross field pass found Công Thành (71) on City's left. His low cross finding Ismaheel with space to turn. Although his initial effort was blocked the tall striker had the presence of mind to swivel and strike the ball low into the Nghệ An net. SLNA 1-2 HCMC FC
City were now full of confidence and with 9 minutes left almost made it 3-1. A free kick 25 yards out was cleanly struck by Hoàng Thiên (19). Unfortunately, his effort flew over the bar rather than under it. Moments later and City thought that they had got their third. A lovely weighted pass by Thanh Bình (8) found Hoàng Thiên (19). Although he finished sweetly his effort was ruled out for offside.
City were to successfully see out the remaining minutes to record an enormous victory and re-light the title race.
FULL TIME : Sông Lam Nghệ An 1-2 Ho Chi Minh City FC
SLNA : 1. Nguyên Mạnh, 4. Memovic Damir, 5. Văn Khánh, 6. Đình Hoàng, 7. Olaha, 9. Ngọc Toàn, 10. Tuấn Tài (18. Phúc Tịnh, 47’), 11. Xuân Mạnh, 12. Khắc Ngọc, 16. Đình Đồng, 28. Quang Tình.
HCMC FC : 1. Thanh Thắng, 7. Ngọc Đức, 8. Thanh Bình, 15. Hữu Tuấn, 18. Quang Nam (19. Hoàng Thiên, 78’), 20. Ngọc Thịnh (88. Ewonde, 46’), 24. Akinade, 28. Công Hiển, 71. Công Thành, 80. Mansaray, 81. Anh Tuấn (9. Hoàng Thịnh, 46’).
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