Rafaelson saves Nam Dinh FC from defeat at Thong Nhat stadium

A late goal from Rafaelson in the 80th minute earned Thép Xanh Nam Dinh a 1-1 draw against Ho Chi Minh City FC in the 23rd round of the V-League 2023-2024, held on the evening of June 15 at Thong Nhat Stadium.

Nam Dinh entered the match aiming to maintain their title challenge, sitting six points clear of the second-placed team. Facing a home side with a strong form at Thong Nhat, the visitors found it challenging to secure a victory. In the 28th minute, Chu Van Kien displayed skillful control just outside the visitors’ penalty area before unleashing a precise shot across the goal, opening the scoring for Ho Chi Minh City FC. Goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh was left with no chance.

Nam Dinh poured forward in search of an equalizer, dominating possession and keeping the ball mostly in Ho Chi Minh City’s half for the majority of the match. Despite Nam Dinh’s pressure, Ho Chi Minh City FC’s solid home form held firm. Coach Phung Thanh Phuong had won his last three home matches, adding to the challenge for the visitors.

Rafaelson (number 14) scores to save Nam Dinh.

In the second half, Coach Vu Hong Viet made a triple substitution, bringing on Nguyen Phong Hong Duy, To Van Vu, and Nguyen Tuan Anh to bolster their attacking options and creativity in midfield. In the 63rd minute, midfielder Nguyen Van Cong thought he had equalized after capitalizing on a rebound off the post from Hendrio’s shot. However, the assistant referee correctly flagged for offside, leaving Nam Dinh frustrated.

Rafaelson, Nam Dinh’s top scorer with 26 goals, was the primary threat for the league leaders. Despite having an off day, he finally found the net for his 27th goal in the 80th minute. Midfielder Ho Khac Ngoc, who had just come on, delivered a precise cross that was headed down by center-back Lucas for Rafaelson to score. The goal stood despite Rafaelson’s borderline offside position.

Following the equalizer, Ho Chi Minh City FC continued to defend resolutely, seeking opportunities on the counterattack. A draw against the league leaders was a satisfactory result for Coach Phung Thanh Phuong’s side. With this draw, Nam Dinh now has 44 points, seven points ahead of Binh Dinh, who have a game in hand. Should Binh Dinh win against Hoang Anh Gia Lai on June 16, the gap at the top would narrow to four points.

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