Ho Chi Minh City FC won for the first time at the 2020 AFC Cup on Tuesday, edging past Hougang United despite the hosts’ spirited fightback at Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
The Vietnamese visitors dominated the game right from kick-off, staging one attack after another.
Ho Chi Minh City FC broke the deadlock 15 minutes into the game after having missed several chances.
Tran Phi Son darted down the right and his cross found Nguyen Cong Phuong, whose quick and strong volley beat goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid.
The Vietnamese club continued to display a pressing performance.
Ho Chi Minh City FC’s striker Amido Baldé’s close-range finish was blocked by Hougang United’s defender Nazrul Nazari in the 45th minute, following a Cong Phuong pass.
But the visitors finally widened the gap, with Baldé heading home a looping cross by Phi Son on the right in injury time of the first half.
They went on to attack after the break and scored a third goal on 59 minutes.
Cong Phuong danced his way in the box, his deflected shot hitting the post, before Phi Son delivered the rebound to Baldé, who headed home again.
But things turned sour for Ho Chi Minh City FC 16 minutes after the hour mark.
Goalie Bui Tien Dung was hesitant to clear a free ball in the 76th minute, fouling speedy Shawal Anuar in the penalty area and given a yellow card.
Stipe Plazibat stepped up to convert from the spot.
Shawal Anuar beat the offside trap four minutes later to cross the ball for Stipe Plazibat to net a second for Hougang United.
The scare continued as a home team player went down in the box following a Ho Chi Minh City FC high boot in the very last seconds of the game.
A whistle was then heard but it turned out the home team player had been flagged offside.
Ho Chi Minh City FC left the pitch with all three points.
They had drawn 2-2 against Yangon United in Myanmar on February 11 so the Vietnamese club are sitting atop Group F with four points, followed by their Myanmarese rivals with the same points, Hougang United on three points, and Lao Toyota on zero points.
The other Vietnamese club in the 2020 AFC Cup, Thanh Quang Ninh FC, earned their first point from a 2-2 draw against Ceres–Negros in the Philippines on Tuesday.
Thanh Quang Ninh are bottom in Group G, which is topped by Ceres–Negros with four points, followed by Indonesia’s Bali United on three points and Cambodia’s Svay Rieng on three points.