Sydney FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Vietnamese side Hoang Anh Gia Lai in their second 2022 Asian Champions League group stage match.
Sydney started the brighter of the two sides, with two penalty shouts – one from Adam Le Fondre and one from Luciano Narsingh – turned down by the referee in the opening minutes which were not subsequently reviewed, as there is no VAR in the group stage.
Sydney continued to exert control over the match for the next 15-20 minutes, until, against the run of play, Vu Van Thanh put HAGL in front with a strike from distance. The shot appeared to hit Ben Warland and take a significant deflection, which bamboozled Andrew Redmayne, and the ball nestled in the back of the net.
Initial reactions placed the gloveman at fault, but subsequent replays showed there was little Redmayne could do to prevent the strike from going in.
It was a dejecting goal for the Sky Blues to concede, and HAGL pretty much immediately got on with some time-wasting tactics.
Strangely, Steve Corica resisted the temptation to make any changes to start the second half. There were many candidates for hooking, and Patrick Wood and Max Burgess must’ve been wondering how much worse the situation would need to be before they got their chance.
The boss finally made some changes with Trent Buhagiar and Max Burgess coming on, and the former made an immediate difference, heading home a cross to level the game at 1-1.
Sydney’s finishing continued to frustrate, with Luciano Narsingh the target of much discontent in the match thread.
Patrick Yazbek and Elvis Kamsoba were then unleashed with about 20 minutes to go.
Sydney pressed for a winner in the closing minutes but ultimately came up short.
It is now a tough task to progress to the knockout stages, with our only real chance likely to be finishing as one of the three best runner-ups in the East conference.
SFCU Player of the Match voting
Have your say in the SFCU Player of the Match voting for this match.
The ACL games keep coming thick and fast, and next up for the Sky Blues is a clash with an old foe – we take on Kevin Muscat’s Yokohama F Marinos at 12am on Friday evening. You can stream the match through Paramount+ or Tenplay.