Football Tribe SEA Editor
Vietnam’s representatives in the 2020 AFC Cup went toe-to-toe against one another as Ho Chi Minh City FC made the trip up North to face Than Quang Ninh at their Cam Pha Stadium in Saturday’s V.League 1 action. The tasty top half encounter turned out to be an exciting affair, with Ho Chi Minh City running out 3-0 winners over Quang Ninh in the Round 9 match to reclaim top position in the 2020 V.League 1 table.
Almost immediately after kick-off, Ho Chi Minh City demonstrated their deadly attacking prowess. In the 5th minute, an excellent play between Amido Balde and Tran Phi Son resulted in the ball finding its way towards Nguyen Cong Phuong, who finished things off from close-range to make it 1-0 Ho Chi Minh City.
Stung by the opener, Quang Ninh reacted immediately by pressing forward towards Ho Chi Minh City’s defense. The Hero Miner threatened the Red Battleship’s goal around three times after Cong Phuong’s opener, with Pham Trung Hieu’s shot going over in the 13th minute, Diego Fagan’s effort missing its target in the 22nd minute, and Mac Hong Quan seeing his shot going wide shortly after Fagan’s miss.
Quang Ninh were soon made to pay for their profligacy in the 24th minute. Phi Son sends a corner towards the Quang Ninh penalty area, allowing Balde to put his 1.93 m tall frame to good use and head in Ho Chi Minh City’s second of the game. 2-0 and suddenly Phan Thanh Hung’s Quang Ninh found themselves having a mountain to climb.
Spurred on by being two goals down, Quang Ninh once again made forays into the Ho Chi Minh City defense. Nguyen Hai Long fired off a shot that went agonizingly wide in the 26th minute, while in the 40th minute Ho Chi Minh City defender Sam Ngoc Duc, under pressure from the Quang Ninh attackers, almost headed the ball into his own net. During the closing stages of the first half, Quang Ninh had a couple of chances again, only for both Ho Chi Minh City goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung and their inability to head the ball towards the target to deny them.
Ho Chi Minh City were not without chances of their own in the first half. Sandwiching Hai Long’s chance and Ngoc Duc’s near own goal experience were chances from Phi Son and Balde, however the two were unable to triple Ho Chi Minh City’s lead.
Nevertheless, Jung Hae-seong’s charges were two goals to the good as the referee blew for half-time.
Five minutes into the second half, Ho Chi Minh City tripled their lead. A Cong Phuong corner was well received by Ngo Viet Phu, who then proceeded to smash the ball into Huynh Tuan Linh’s goal with a thundering header to ensure that there will be no way back for Quang Ninh.
The hosts attempted to put more pressure into the Ho Chi Minh City defense, however being three goals to the good enabled Jung Hae-seong’s men to sit back and shut up shop. Tien Dung also had an excellent day in the office deputizing for usual goalie Nguyen Thanh Thang, with the 23-year old goalkeeper doing well to deny Quang Ninh their consolation.
The 3-0 scoreline stood until full-time, with Ho Chi Minh City returning back South with all three points and the V.League 1 summit once again theirs…until all of the Round 9 matches were played, at least.
Saturday’s other Round 9 action saw Becamex Binh Duong and Hoang Anh Gia Lai playing out a 1-1 draw at Binh Duong’s Go Dau Stadium, while a first-half blitz helped Viettel FC to a crushing 4-0 win over fellow Northern Vietnam side Hai Phong FC at the Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi, with three of the game’s four goals being scored in six first-half minutes.
Round 9 of the 2020 V.League 1 continues on Sunday, with the first ever Nghe-Tinh Derby between neighboring sides Song Lam Nghe An and Hong Linh Ha Tinh at SLNA’s Vinh Stadium. Defending champions Hanoi FC are looking to turn their stuttering season around as they take on a SHB Da Nang side who are undefeated in their last five matches at the Hoa Xuan Stadium in Da Nang. Both Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh and Quang Nam FC face off against one another in a battle between the league’s bottom two teams at the Thien Truong Stadium, while Sai Gon FC are looking to extend their invincible run in the league as Thanh Hoa FC pay the Thong Nhat Stadium a visit.