Football Tribe SEA Editor
Monday night’s V.League 1 action saw an exciting encounter unfold at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City. Hosts and league leaders Ho Chi Minh City FC entertained visiting SHB Da Nang and both teams served up an electrifying match that ended in a 2-2 draw, with three goals coming at the last five minutes of the match.
Ho Chi Minh City came into Monday’s match looking to extend their lead on top of the 2020 V.League 1 table, while Da Nang were in good form and spirits as they walked into the Thong Nhat pitch. Le Huynh Duc’s Da Nang have managed to shake off a stuttering start to the season and were unbeaten in their last 3 matches, which included a 6-1 demolition job of Central Vietnam rivals Quang Nam FC that kickstarted the run.
Monday night’s match was the second time that Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang squared off against one another this season. Earlier in the season, the two teams clashed at the Thong Nhat for a 2020 Vietnamese National Cup match, which went all the way to penalties after a goalless match. Ho Chi Minh City edged Da Nang in the ensuing shootout to advance to the cup’s next round.
Immediately after the referee blew for kick-off, Da Nang went for the offensive. Swedish-Congolese striker Grace Tanda led the line for Da Nang and he immediately threatened Nguyen Thanh Thang’s goal with a shot that went wide from the target after just 30 seconds.
Ho Chi Minh City replied to Tanda’s chance with a chance of their own in the 3rd minute. Amido Balde rifled in a cannonball from outside the penalty area, however the ball went straight into Nguyen Tuan Manh’s safe hands. Balde then threatened Tuan Manh with another long-ranged shot in the 6th minute, however the former Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN goalie did well to deny the former Celtic, Persebaya Surabaya, and PSM Makassar man.
Despite playing away at the league leaders and with the underdog tag firmly wrapped around them, Da Nang showed no fear and their offensive movements forced the Ho Chi Minh City defenders to work hard in containing them. Both Tanda and Phan Van Long worked together excellently in building up Da Nang’s attacks. The Central Vietnamese side crafted a number of chances, however Thanh Thang was at hand to deny them.
In the 30th minute, Ho Chi Minh City got themselves another chance to open the scoring. A Nguyen Cong Phuong corner was headed by Balde towards goal, however the ball was blocked from close range by Tuan Manh. The ball fell into the possession of Vo Huy Toan, who fired off a shot that clipped the goalpost, denying Ho Chi Minh City their opener.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 44th minute and it was Da Nang who managed to silence the Thong Nhat faithful. The away side managed to execute an excellent counterattack that went straight into the Ho Chi Minh City defense, which was capped off by Van Long firing a long-ranged shot from outside the penalty area that went beyond Thanh Thang’s reaches. 1-0 Da Nang and that was the scoreline as the referee called for half-time.
Da Nang retained the same level of bravery in attack during the second half and in the 51st minute they almost doubled their lead. Ha Duc Chinh weaved his way through the Ho Chi Minh City defense, passing the ball to an incoming Tanda who fired off a shot that was blocked by a diving Thanh Thang.
As they chased for that all-important equalizer, Ho Chi Minh City gradually increased their pressure on Da Nang, waiting for that one moment when the visitors’ defense shows any signs of vulnerabilities. In the 73rd minute, Ho Chi Minh City pumped a long ball into the Da Nang defense and in an attempt to clear the ball away, Da Nang defender Tran Dinh Hoang almost headed the ball into his own net. Thankfully the crossbar saved Dinh Hoang’s blushes, with the ensuing rebound triggering a slight skirmish that ended with the ball being cleared away by the Da Nang defense.
It was not until the 88th minute that all the pressure that Ho Chi Minh City has applied finally paid off. Substitute Tran Thanh Binh fired off a low shot that went straight through Tuan Manh’s goal. 1-1, and Ho Chi Minh City were back in the game in the match’s twilight moment.
As the match entered injury time, Ho Chi Minh City struck once again. In the first minute of injury time, Balde, who had been dangerous throughout the match with his shots and headers, managed to tower above his marker and headed in Ho Chi Minh City’s second goal of the match. It’s 2-1 for the hosts now and it seemed that Ho Chi Minh City have clawed their way back from adversity towards victory.
However, Da Nang had other things to say. As the injury time given by the referee entered its third and final minute, substitute Do Thanh Trinh managed to poke the ball towards Tanda, who narrowly outpaced the Ho Chi Minh City defenders around him and beat Thanh Thang with a cleverly-taken shot, eliciting pandemonium in the Da Nang camp. 2-2, and that’s how the scoreline stood after full-time.
Despite dropping two points, Ho Chi Minh City remained top of the V.League 1 with 14 points, while the single point from the draw meant that Da Nang are now currently 10th in the league.
In Monday’s other V.League 1 action, Viettel FC managed to jump all the way to 2nd place thanks to a crushing 3-0 away win at Quang Nam, a result that prompted Quang Nam head coach Vu Hong Viet to hand in his resignation letter. Last but not least, Hai Phong FC and Hoang Anh Gia Lai played out a goalless draw at the Lach Tray Stadium in Hai Phong.
Round 7 of the 2020 V.League 1 continues on Tuesday with Thanh Hoa FC hosting Than Quang Ninh at the Thanh Hoa Stadium, as Song Lam Nghe An pay bottom side Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh a visit at the Thien Truong Stadium. Hong Linh Ha Tinh welcome Becamex Binh Duong to their Ha Tinh Stadium, while last but not least in the late kick-off, an exciting top half clash is on the cards as defending champions Hanoi FC host Sai Gon FC at the Hang Day Stadium.