City secured a valuable away point against a strong Thanh Hóa side and remain top of the League after Week 17 of the 2019 Wake-Up 247 V-League 1 season.

City maintained their position at the top of the V-League 1 table after a pulsating match at the SVĐ Thanh Hóa ended all square at 3-3.  City lead twice including an 88th minute goal but ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils in a game full of attacking endeavor.

As per previous weeks, Coach Chung Hae-soung decided to rotate the troops making three changes from the side that played SHB Đà Nẵng at SVĐ Bà Rịa the previous Wednesday.  Into the starting line up came Ngọc Đức (7), Quang Nam (18) and Anh Tuấn (81).  Dropping to the bench Hoàng Thịnh (9),  Công Thành (71) and Captain Kesley (77) who was carrying a slight injury.  Christian (88) maintained his place in the starting XI although carrying a muscle problem sustained in the 2-0 victory against B. Bình Dương. 

City were determined not to let the hosts settle into their preferred approach of counter attacking and went immediately on the offensive.  With barely two minutes on the clock, a poor clearance from Thanh Hóa's No 28 Gramoz from a City throw in landed at the feet of Anh Tuấn (81) who smashed the ball high into the host's net to give the league leaders an early lead.   Thanh Hóa FC 0-1 HCMC FC

Six minutes later and it was almost 2 nil.  Following another City throw in Văn Nam (29) almost conceded an own goal with his mis-directed header being collected by Bá Sơn in the Thanh Hóa goal inches before it crossed the line.

The host's first attempt at goal came in the 12th minute via the head of Stevens (45).  However, his header was brilliantly saved by the returning ex-Thanh Hóa keeper Thanh Thắng who tipped the ball over the bar.  Neither player noticing the raised flag from the referee's assistant.  

Thanh Hóa had a strong penalty shout turned down on the 20 minute mark.  An untidy high challenge by Christian (88) almost wiped out Rimario (11) who went down holding his head.  Subsequent replays showed that there was no contact made.  This was also to prove to be Christian's last involvement in the game.

On 23 minutes Coach Chung Hae-soung was forced into making his first change replacing an injured Christian with Ngọc Thịnh (20).

Although the host's were enjoying the lion share of possession (69% to 31%), City had the perfect opportunity to double their advantage on 26 minutes.  A flowing move down City's left between Công Hiển (28) who was celebrating his 27th birthday and Quang Nam (18) saw the latter break free inside the host's area.  His low cross found Ismaheel (24) in acres of space.  Somehow the City forward contrived to scuff his effort in front of an empty net and the chance was cleared. 

Moments later and Ismaheel was involved again with the tall striker almost latching onto a weak back pass from Văn Đại (26).  The defender's being helped out by an alert Bá Sơn (1).

 

With a third of the game completed City's hard work work was almost undone.  Following a long ball, the usually reliable Thanh Thắng appeared to misjudge the bounce of the ball allowing Stevens (45) a sniff of a chance.  However, the Thanh Hóa man was adjudged to have fouled the City keeper as he went for the ball.

City were continuing to probe for the second goal.  On 32 a deft pass from Văn Thuận (14) found Quang Nam in a dangerous position.  Unfortunately the City striker was unable to make any meaningful contact under pressure from Minh Tùng (5) who appeared to nudge the striker in his attempt.  To be fair to the Thanh Hóa defender there was no appeal from any City player.

Any effort from the hosts were being being restricted to long range efforts and Rimario was beginning to cut a frustrated figure.

As the first period entered it's last five minutes Ismaheel had another opportunity come his way.  This time the cross from Tùng Quốc (2) was just too high for the striker to control his header.

Half Time : Thanh Hóa FC 0-1 Ho Chi Minh City FC

Barely two minutes into the second period and the hosts had a glorious opportunity to equalise.  A free kick taken by Rimario (11) was deflected to Trọng Hùng (20) in acres of space.  His effort was horribly high and wide.

City were determined however not to let the hosts settle or dictate the play and moments later Quang Nam (18) tested the keeper and although his shot was initially fumbled, the chance came to nothing.

City's best chances were continuing to fall to Ismaheel.  On 52 minutes, a knock on by Anh Tuấn (81) found Quang Nam who himself was having an influential game.  His pass allowing Ismaheel the opportunity to strike on goal.  Not for the first time the effort was high and wide.

Just after the hour mark and the game's second goal duly arrived and once again it went the way of the visitors.  A corner taken by Anh Tuấn (81) was helped on by Hữu Tuấn (15).  Ismaheel's initial effort was blocked but the ball fell invitingly to striking partner Mansaray (80) who duly dispatched the ball into the back of the Thanh Hóa net.    Thanh Hóa FC 0-2 HCMC FC 

With only 15 minutes left on the clock and seemingly in a coasting position, City were to see their lead, not only halved, but wiped out in a frantic 60 seconds of action.  Firstly, on 75 minutes, Tùng Quốc (2) misjudged the bounce of a cross into the City box allowing Đình Tùng (2), who had only been on the pitch five minutes, to cross for Văn Hội (90) to score.   Thanh Hóa FC 1-2 HCMC FC

Forty seconds later and the turn around was complete.  Rimario who had been involved in everything the hosts had to offer, sent a dangerous cross into the City box finding Văn Hội (90) who inturn found Stevens (45).  The Thanh Hóa man was able to feed Văn Thắng (10) who found the back of the City net via a wicked deflection of an unlucky Công Hiển (28).  Thanh Hóa FC 2-2 HCMC FC

The hosts definitely smelt blood and City's earlier work was in danger of being undone.  In an effort to shore things up, Coach Chung Hae-soung made his second change on 80 minutes sending on the reliable Thanh Bình (8) for Văn Thuận (14) who once again had put in an amazing shift.

With only 4 minutes left on the clock City thought they had secured the three points and the goal was to come via an unlikely source.  Receiving the ball on the edge of the host's box, Quang Nam (18) was able to maneuver the ball into a shooting position and fire the ball past the despairing dive of Bá Sơn in the Thanh Hóa goal.  Much to the absolute delight of all his team mates.   Thanh Hóa FC 2-3 HCMC FC

Coach Chung Hae-soung threw on Hoàng Thịnh (9) in place of Anh Tuấn (81) to inject some fresh legs in an attempt to run down the clock.

With 4 additional minutes being shown on the board things were becoming frantic on the pitch.  Mansaray talking himself into the referee's book reacting to comments from Rimario who escaped any punishment.

Any thought that City might have had that the scoring or drama was over was to be extinguished with only 2 minutes left of the additional four.  A Thanh Hóa corner was completely missed by everyone at the front post allowing Minh Tùng (5) the simplest of tasks to square things up.   Thanh Hóa FC 3-3 HCMC FC

There was still time for City to create and miss one final opportunity.  Quang Nam's header bouncing over the bar rather than under it. 

 

Both teams had to settle for a share of the spoils but for City.  It was more the case of a point won rather than two points lost. 

Full Time : Thanh Hóa FC 3-3 Ho Chi Minh City FC

Teams

Thanh Hóa FC : 1. Bá Sơn, 8. Văn Hiếu (2. Đình Tùng 70’), 45. Stevens, 28. Kurtaj Gramoz, 26. Văn Đại, 10. Văn Thắng, 5. Minh Tùng, 20. Trọng Hùng (90. Văn Hội 65’), 29. Văn Nam, 11. Rimario, 21. Xuân Cường (93. Văn Long 78’). 

HCMC FC : 1. Thanh Thắng, 24. Ismaheel, 14. Văn Thuận (8. Thanh Bình 80’), 88. Epassi (20. Ngọc Thịnh 24’), 80. Mansaray, 2. Tùng Quốc, 15. Hữu Tuấn, 28. Công Hiển, 7. Ngọc Đức, 81. Anh Tuấn (9. Hoàng Thịnh 88’), 18. Quang Nam

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©2018 by Darren Smale