|Olaha Michael Onyedikachi of Sông Lam Nghệ An (left) tries to overcome Khánh Hòa players during their V.League match yesterday in Vinh City. — VNA/VNS Photo Tá Chuyên|
HÀ NỘI — Creating many opportunities during the 90 minute match on home turf, Sông Lam Nghệ An ended their match empty handed, losing 0-1 to Sanna Khánh Hòa in the second round match of the V.League yesterday.
The team suffered their first loss last week at the AFC Cup, partly due to resting their key players during this domestic tournament.
Yesterday all of them came back to play their first match at V. League, but none could score against Khánh Hòa, who played in the counter-attack.
The hosts saw their first opportunity early in the first half when national U23 midfielder Phan Văn Đức received the ball in the box from the right wing. His finish touched the pole and went out.
Sông Lam Nghệ An’s foreigners Olaha Michael Onyedikachi and Osmar Francisco also had their chances, but they failed to defeat Khánh Hòa’s defenders and goalkeeper Nguyễn Tuấn Mạnh.
Đức again missed his first goal of the season at the 22nd minute when he managed a ball from Hồ Khắc Ngọc to near the box, and tried to loop it over Mạnh’s head, but Mạnh performed his good well.
Midfielder Ngọc was also tested with a strong straight finish, while Đức wasted his third chance at the 27th and 31st minutes, respectively.
Khánh Hòa worked hard to resist the hosts’ consecutive attempt, but they managed to score the opener in their first threatening chance in the final second of the first half.
Toure Youssouf passed a perfect ball to substitute Lâm Ti Phông, who left U23 star Phạm Xuân Mạnh behind to make a close-range shot that was unstoppable.
Coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng made some changes in the second half, with a view to strengthening his team’s front line.
His decision, however, did not work as the team nearly suffered its second goal when Nguyễn Hoàng Quốc Chí’s finish went wide within a hair’s gap.
All attempts of the hosts in the remaining time did not alter the situation. While former winners Sông Lam Nghệ An suffered from a poor start, Khánh Hòa enjoyed the first three points of the season to rank third in the table.
Speaking at the post-match briefing, coach Võ Đình Tân said, “I am happy because we earned three points from this season’s opening match. We did not play well and could not control first half’s happenings. But my players caught up with the pace, especially (Lâm Ti) Phông.
“Counter-attack helped us to take full advantage of Sông Lam Nghệ An’s only mistake.”
On the host side, coach Thắng was not satisfied with the result, but he praised the spirit of his players.
“We are disappointed because of the unexpected results, though we played with great encouragement from thousand of local supporters. We had chances, though Đức individually could not score a goal, although he gave up four opportunities. Khánh Hòa, however, made it following several attempts. In football, we really need luck.
“Our playing style has not been in great shape yet. My players need to connect better together. And the foreign players need time to integrate with the local players,” he said.
In Thanh Hóa Province, FLC Thanh Hóa also tasted victory after defeating HCM City FC 1-0.
The match also saw perfect performances by U23 goalkeeper Bùi Tiến Dũng of Thanh Hóa, who denied all efforts by HCM City’s strikers.
The only goal of the match was made by substitute Hoàng Đình Tùng, who sprinted to pass all visiting defenders to net his first goal in the 70th mark.
HCM City’s best chance came from a strong header by Gustavo, who tried to convert a free kick into an equaliser. Keeper Dũng could not reach it, as it went wide.
The loss is a blow for coach Toshyia Miura, the former national team coach, and his team, who just announced their target of being among the top three this season.
In the latest match of the round, Sài Gòn FC lost 1-2 to Quảng Ninh Coal.
Also, there were three matches played on Saturday.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai received their second draw after two matches when they tied with host Hải Phòng 1-1 at Lạch Tray Stadium.
They will miss their talented midfielder, Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, for six weeks because of a ligament injury.
Anh, who played only 20 minutes before being sent out on a stretcher, will not return to the grass field until the fifth round in mid-April. But more importantly, he will not join teammates at a training camp in preparation for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifier this week.
Former champions Hà Nội FC collected their second win, defeating Cần Thơ 2-0 on away ground.
Moses Oloya opened the score 20 minutes after the interval, before Oseni Ganiyu Bolaji scored a doubles in the extra time.
Hà Nội, who topped the ranking, will meet Hoàng Anh Gia Lai on April 5. Their match was set on March 21, but was delayed due to the State funeral of former Prime Minister Phan Văn Khải.
Three-time winner Becamex Bình Dương also saw their first win of the season, defeating V.League’s promoted Nam Định 2-1 at Gò Đậu Stadium.
Hồ Tấn Tài and Romario Kortzong netted for the hosts in the first half, while Nam Định’s Phạm Văn Thuận narrowed the result at the 61st minute. — VNS