Hougang United came from behind to win for the second game in a row, beating Laos’ Young Elephants 3-1 on Matchday Two of the AFC Cup 2022™ Group I on Monday.
Hougang United had turned a two-goal deficit against Phnom Penh Crown of Cambodia into a 4-3 victory on Friday, while Young Elephants looked to bounce back from a 5-1 defeat at the hands of group hosts Viettel FC.
Just as they did in their first match, Young Elephants wasted no time in taking the lead inside the opening five minutes. Ryota Yanagizono’s impeccable through pass found Bounphachan Bounkong who repeated his opening day heroics, firing from a narrow angle into the roof of the net to put the Laotians in front.
Ryota nearly added another assist to his tally in the 11th minute, albeit slightly inadvertently as his left-footed shot was miscued, finding its way to the head of Lucas Paulista who made the connection but could not direct his header towards goal.
The pair connected again in the 17th minute, swapping roles this time with the Brazilian feeding a perfectly weighted through pass following a quick break to find Ryota who had just the goalkeeper to beat, but could not apply a clean finish and was denied by the outstretched legs of Hougang United’s Mukundan Maran.
The Singaporean side had to wait until added time of the first half to get their first on target, but they made sure it counted with what was very much the last kick of the half as a defensive mistake allowed Pedro Bortoluzo’s cross from the right to reach Sahil Suhaimi who kept his composure to evade a defender and finish into the back of the net for the leveller.
In the second half, Hougang United picked up exactly where they left off with Suhaimi finding the target once more. The 29-year-old forward lined up a free-kick from 25 yards out and successfully curled it past the wall and goalkeeper Outthilath Nammakhot who was unable to deal with the effort.
Bortoluzo showed a poacher’s instinct with 12 minutes to go as he pounced on Kristijan Krajček’s mishit shot, beating everyone to the ball and rounding the Laotian goalkeeper before placing it into the net from a narrow angle for 3-1.
The result, coupled with Viettel’s 1-0 victory over Phnom Penh Crown earlier in the day, sets-up a thrilling top of the table clash on the final matchday between Viettel and Hougang United, with both sides having collected six points, while consolation points will be the only prize on offer for the last game between Phnom Penh Crown and Young Elephants on Thursday.
Source: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
Date: 27 June 2022, Monday
Stadium: Thong Nhat Stadium, Ho Chi Minh City
Kick-off: 9pm local time, 10pm (SGT)
Half-time: Young Elephants 1-1 Hougang United
Full-time: Young Elephants 1-3 Hougang United
Young Elephants: Bounkong 5’
Hougang United: Sahil 40’+1, 65’, Pedro 78’