Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Sông Lam Nghệ An supporters converted the Thống Nhất Stadium into their home ground as they made the most of the venue, turning it yellow under the colour of their club uniform.
However, the crowds of nearly 10,000 failed to help their team avoid a 1-3 defeat to Sài Gòn FC at the V.League’s round nine match yesterday in HCM City.
The supporters from Nghệ An Province, but living and working in the city and surrounding localities, marched on the streets heading to the stadium. They were joined by many foreigners who came to the stadium hours prior to the match to encourage the former champions, who have had a poor season.
The fervent cheering of the fans played a key role promoting the spirits of sides.
The hosts, Sài Gòn, needed only seven minutes to find the opener.
Quốc Long brought a ball to a space between Sông Lam Nghệ An’s defenders Quế Ngọc Hải and Hoàng Văn Khánh in the central area. Nguyễn Ngọc Duy sprinted to steal the ball and ran solo to face goalkeeper Trần Nguyên Mạnh. He made no mistake in scoring.
The early goal confused Sông Lam Nghệ An’s line-up and kept their supporters silent.
But it was not enough for the hosts, who doubled the score just 10 minutes later.
Patrick dos Sanros Cruz met no challenge, as he moved from the home side area to Sông Lam Nghệ An’s box, before Mạnh suffer the second goal loss.
Sông Lam Nghệ An tried to rearrange their team and pushed more attacks.
They found a goal to narrow the result three minutes later, when a host defender let his hand touch the ball in the box.
Trần Phi Sơn then netted for the visitors.
But the gap was re-set near the interval.
Nguyễn Xuân Dương ran from behind to receive a ball and left some Sông Lam Nghệ An’s players behind before making a straight shot to the far corner of goalie Mạnh, who has not qualified for Việt Nam national team for the 2019 Asian Cup qualification because of his red card at the ASEAN Football Federation Cup last December.
Ten minutes rest was not enough for the visitors to find a suitable way to break Sài Gòn’s net again.
Their attempts were easily blocked.
Meanwhile, Sài Gòn intended to play in defence to protect their lead.
The win ended their six-match streak in which they did not win and lifted them to No 9 in the ranking table.
On the other side, Sông Lam Nghệ An received their fourth loss and remain at No 12.
In the earlier game of the round, leader FLC Thanh Hóa remained the only undefeated team of the tournament, after a 0-0 draw against Hải Phòng at Lạch Tray Stadium.
Both sides created a number of opportunities, but their players failed to converted to goals.
“Thanh Hóa has changed a lot since they began playing under Petrovic. He is a coach from a football community that is at a higher level than Việt Nam. Therefore, when they (Thanh Hóa) have set a target for a match, they know how to complete it,” said coach Trương Việt Hoàng of Hải Phòng.
“I believed that Thanh Hóa wanted one point from this match, and they did it. I must confirm that beating Thanh Hóa at this time is a big job for every team,” he added.
Coach Petrovic said he watched Hải Phòng carefully before the match. He knew the three key players on the team and asked his players to work hard to prevent them from playing well. The Serbian trainer was satisfied with what his team did, including the young members who played their first V.league game.
He said there was almost no common points in football between Việt Nam and Europe, but he wanted Thanh Hóa to play the same as English Premier League champions Leicester City.
Players needed to unite and work for a common target. That is how to have winning results at the end of the season, he said.
Thanh Hóa collected 19 points and stands firmly at the top of the table.
Hải Phòng are in fourth with 14 points.
Thanh Hóa will next visit defending champions Hà Nội FC, while Hải Phòng travels to play HCM City. — VNS