A goal by star striker Nguyen Cong Phuong proved to be not enough for Ho Chi Minh City FC to turn the tables in their 1-2 loss to Binh Duong FC at the Vietnamese top-flight professional football tournament V-League 1 on Monday night.
Many fans expected that the Ho Chi Minh City-based club would clinch a win to reclaim their top spot in the table, which had been taken by their city rivals, Saigon FC, on Sunday.
However, it was the away team that entered the game with more determination and surprisingly enjoyed the early opening goal.
French striker Toure Youssouf was fouled by Ho Chi Minh City FC’s defender Huu Tuan in the penalty box, giving his teammate Hedipo Gustavo a chance to score in the fifth minute.
Despite putting more effort after shipping the lead, the hosts’ slow and predictable attacks hardly challenged Binh Duong FC’s stable defense line.
The same could not be said of the home team’s defending players, who left their goalkeeper picking the ball out of his own net before half time.
From a pass in the middle of the pitch, Gustavo ran through to face goalie Nguyen Thanh Thang and lobbed the ball over his head into the net in the second additional minute of the first half.
Ho Chi Minh City FC’s more attacks and pressure on the visitors’ goal in the second half only gave them one goal to narrow the difference in the 77th minute, when star striker Nguyen Cong Phuong tapped it in from close range.
No more goals were netted for the rest of the game, and the 2-1 away victory sent Binh Duong FC from the fourth position to the third place with the same 14 points as Ho Chi Minh City FC, which remain in the second spot two points behind Saigon FC – the only unbeaten team at V-League 1 after eight rounds.
The winners of the 2020 season will qualify for the AFC Champions League group stage while the 14th-placed club, currently Nam Dinh FC, will be relegated to the second-tier V-League 2.
The V-League 1 season was postponed on March 15 after its first two rounds had been played behind closed doors on account of COVID-19.
It was resumed on June 5, with supporters allowed to enter stadiums to cheer for their clubs after Vietnam lifted the Coronavirus safety measures.