Hanoi: Kim Yu-song’s ninth goal of a prolific AFC Cup campaign earned DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC a dramatic 2-2 draw away at Vietnamese heavyweights Hanoi FC in the first leg of this season’s Inter-Zone Final.
After Rim Chol-min had given 4.25 an early lead, goals from Nguyen Van Quyet and Papa Kebe had appeared to swing the tie in Hanoi’s favour, only for the prolific Kim to strike with three minutes of normal time remaining to hand his side a distinct advantage with the return tie still to come in Pyongyang on October 2.
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At an atmospheric Hang Day Stadium, it was 4.25 who took the lead somewhat against the run of play, the livewire Rim firing home at the far post after O Hyok-chol had touched on Son Phyong-il’s 19th minute cross.
Hanoi’s response was almost immediate though as Van Quyet converted a pinpoint Kebe cross to bag his seventh goal of the campaign and haul his side back into the encounter just two minutes later.
One was to become two for Hanoi on 28 minutes, this time Kebe latching onto a wonderful Pape Omar Faye pass before comfortably slotting the ball past 4.25 goalkeeper An Tae-song.
After home favourite Nguyen Quang Hai had blasted an angled volley narrowly wide of the target, Hanoi were dealt a blow when custodian Nguyen Van Cong was stretchered off to be replaced by Bui Tien Dung.
Nevertheless, and seemingly unfazed by Van Cong’s enforced withdrawal, Hanoi continued to press as first Faye drilled a shot inches past the post and then both he and Quang Hai forced An Tae-song into smart saves with the first half drawing to a close.
Within two minutes of the restart Faye was handed a glorious opportunity to stretch Hanoi’s advantage, but the Senegalese forward somehow contrived to blaze the ball over the bar from close-range following Van Quyet’s cross and Truong Van Thai Quy’s cushioned header.
As 4.25 looked to restore parity, Rim was expertly denied by Tien Dung shortly after the hour mark, while Kim saw his attempt from distance comfortably gathered by Hanoi’s substitute goalkeeper moments later.
Van Quyet duly rifled an 85th minute shot into Am Tae-song’s midriff, before the visitors’ persistence paid handsome dividends when Kim’s long-range effort found its way past Tien Dung’s despairing dive and into the corner of the net.