City cut the gap at the top of the league table to 5 points to stay in touch with Hà Nội in the race for the Championship beating 3rd place Than Quảng Ninh 3-1 at the SVĐ Thống Nhất in Week 21 of the 2019 Wake-Up 247 V-League 1 season.
Three first half goals including a brace from Mansaray and a screamer from Quang Nam ensured that there was no slip up from City as they tried to maintain pressure on league leaders Hà Nội at the top of the Wake-Up 247 V-League 1 table. Victory over tonight's visitors also saw the gap between second and third increase to 7 points.
After defeats in their previous two outings it would be right to expect that their would be a few nerves in the City dressing room. Maybe sensing this and the need to change things to suit the opponents, Coach Chung Hae-soung made five changes from the side that went down 0-2 in controversial circumstances last time out away to Quảng Nam. Christian was missing due to suspension after collecting a third yellow card. Into the side came Hữu Tuấn (15) returning after suspension, Ngọc Thịnh (20), Công Hiển (28), Công Thành (71) and Anh Tuấn (81). Dropping to the bench went Thanh Bình (8) and Ismaheel (24). There was no place in the squad for either Captain Kesley or Hoàng Thịnh (9).
In pouring rain City started the game as a team with something to prove and memories of the previous two defeats were soon to be washed away as those assembled at the SVĐ Thống Nhất were treated to a scintillating first period.
Five minutes in and City settled any nerves that may have been felt in the stands. A poor clearance from Tuấn Linh (26) went straight to City striker Mansaray (80) who fed in Anh Tuấn (81). Although he was unable to capitalize on the chance, the visitors did not learn from the keeper's mistake with Nhật Minh (15) being dispossessed by Quang Nam (18). His run into the box being unceremoniously ended by the outstretched leg of Than Quảng Ninh's No 28 Văn Việt. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Mansaray stepping up to fire the ball high into the top left hand corner to give City the lead. HCMC FC 1-0 Than Quảng Ninh
City were now playing as a team with the shackles off and it was no surprise when on 16 minutes they were to double their advantage. A City freekick on their right was lined up by Quang Nam who curled the ball beautifully into the top right hand corner giving Tuấn Linh (26) no chance in the visitor's goal. HCMC FC 2-0 Than Quảng Ninh
Although enjoying the lion's share of possession, it was the visitors who were to strike next in the 34th minute. A flighted cross into the City area caused confusion. Thành Thắng's awkward clearance falling to Nhật Minh (15) was in turn able to feed Xuân Hùng (20). His 25 yard effort appearing to swerve viciously as it beat a helpless Thành Thắng in the City goal. HCMC FC 2-1 Than Quảng Ninh
Any nerves that the goal might have given City were quickly dispelled in the 35th minute. City broke quickly via Văn Thuận (14) who was showing no signs of rustiness after missing three games through suspension. A misplaced pass by the Than Quảng Ninh defence found its way to Mansaray who side footed home from 25 yards for his second and City's third goal of the evening. HCMC FC 3-1 Than Quảng Ninh
The visitors were showing signs of frustration as their chance of closing the gap with City and second place was beginning to slip away. Every decision hotly disputed and argued. The referee to his credit remained firm.
Half Time : Ho Chi Minh City FC 3-1 Than Quảng Ninh
The second half was one of game control and preserving what they had as City went into a largely defensive shell seemingly happy to counter attack when the opportunity arose.
Memories of Thanh Hóa away were never far from supporter's minds. That evening City surrendered a 2-0 advantage and a 3-2 lead to finally draw 3-3. This evening though there was to be no repeat as City put in a thoroughly professional second half performance.
The visitors did however have several opportunities to cut the deficit during the half. Two thirds into the game, Thế Mạnh (37) who had earlier replaced Kouassi (71) tried his luck from distance. The ball bouncing awkwardly in front of City's keeper who, although initially fumbled the shot, was able to gather easily. On 82 minutes a skyward clearance by Ngọc Thịnh (20) was retrieved by Than Quảng Ninh's Hồng Quân (8). His initial shot saved by Thành Thắng. The rebound landing at the feet of ex-City striker Dyachenko (83). His effort was cleared to safety with Hồng Quân screaming for the pull back in acres of space.
The visitor's best chance came on 85 minutes. A cross from the visitor's left by Quách Tân (27) found the head of the ex-City man. His header being adjudged to have struck the arm of Ngọc Thịnh (20). Thành Thắng in the City goal was once again to prove why he is rapidly becoming the best keeper in Vietnam by keeping out Dyachenko's spot kick diving low to his left.
Than Quảng Ninh were being restricted to long efforts and there was just time for the visitors to test the City goal. As the game entered it's fourth minute of additional time Dyachenko raced clear. His cross finding Quách Tân (27\) who shot horribly high and wide.
Full Time : Ho Chi Minh City FC 3-1 Than Quảng Ninh
HCMC FC : 1. Thành Thắng, 2. Tùng Quốc, 7. Ngọc Đức (99. Văn Thành, 80’), 14. Văn Thuận, 15. Hữu Tuấn, 18. Quang Nam, 20. Ngọc Thịnh (4. Tăng Tiến, 89’), 28. Công Hiển, 71. Công Thành, 80. Mansaray, 81. Anh Tuấn (8 Thanh Bình, 75’).
Than Quảng Ninh : 26. Tuấn Linh, 2. Văn Khoa, 8. Hồng Quân, 15. Nhật Minh, 20. Xuân Hùng, 22. Lastro, 27. Quách Tân, 28. Văn Việt (23. Tiến Duy, 84’), 71. Kouassi (37. Thế Mạnh, 54’), 77. Xuân Tú, 83. Dyachenko.
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