|PPCFC v Binh Duong, back row, LtoR: Pheng, Obadin, Bosma, Srin, Ngwa, Yaty. Front: Pellegrino, Boris, Sokthorn, Sothy, Sokumpheak (capt) - click to enlarge|
Crown gave a fighting performance tonight at the home of Binh Duong and should be proud of themselves for causing the V-League champions so many problems. It was a very close run game until two goals late in the game flattered the eventual winners. After both sets of players were left to get cold with never-ending pre-match speeches and introductions, it was Binh Duong who caught Crown cold with a goal after a minute and 19 seconds on the clock. Nguyen Trong Hoang's corner fell at the feet of Dieng Abass, he made himself a yard and his shot took a wicked deflection of Kok Boris to leave Sou Yaty with no chance. Crown marched straight up the other end and Koen Bosma's shot was deflected for a corner. Next an Adriano Pellegrino free-kick was finger-tipped off a queue of waiting heads for a corner by lanky keeper Bui Tan Truong. Yaty was alert to the space Oseni Bolaji found himself and the Crown keeper kept gout his shot with his legs. With play switching ends, Va Sokthorn was flagged offside after Baldwin Ngwa's backheel put him free inside the box. Crown's chance to equalise appeared to arrive on 19 minutes as Bosma played Pellegrino into space on the left, his tantalising center was touched goalwards by the outstretched leg of Ngwa but the ball agonisingly sailed the wrong side of the upright. Yaty was again in the thick of it as he blocked a close range attempt by Abass from Bolaji's center, and then acrobatically caught a cross from Le Tan Tai. With 4 minutes of the first-half remaining, Binh Duong cracked open Crown through the middle and despite an initial stop from Yaty on Nguyen Anh Duc, Hoang poked the ball into the unguarded net. There was still time for Bosma to head a Pellegrino cross over the bar as Au Van Hoan applied pressure on the Dutchman.
Crown came out fighting at the start of the second-half and took the game to the home team. Va Sokthorn had a shot saved from Ngwa's lay-back with just 48 seconds on the clock, Pellegrino shaved the paint off the post with a ferocious drive from Bosma's pass, and the Dutchman had a drive blocked on the edge of the box. A 25-yard free-kick from Bosma deflected off the wall for a corner, and Sokthorn played in Ngwa, who cut inside but Truong was equal to his well-struck shot and punched the ball out of danger. Le Cong Vinh entered the fray and immediately found room only to shoot weakly at Yaty, but it was Crown who finally reaped the rewards for their pressure. On 66 minutes Bosma was on hand to tap home at the far post from Hong Pheng's perfect delivery across the face of goal. Kouch Sokumpheak weaved past three defenders but Ngwa's shot was blocked but with 20 minutes to go, Binh Duong knocked the wind out of Crown's sails with a scrappy third goal, Oseni Bolaji bending low to head in near the foot of the post, after Cong Vinh had headed down a cross from Hoang. As the game bounced from end to end, George Bisan came on for Ngwa with thirteen minutes to go and within fifteen seconds was thwarted by a defenders heel, as he played a neat 1-2 with Pellegrino. Moments later, Ngoy Srin's headed pass gave Bisan another opportunity, but he was a foot wide with his looping finish. As both teams made a flurry of personnel changes, Binh Duong made sure of the win when a quick break allowed Le Cong Vinh to rifle the ball into the roof of the net from an Abass pass, with two minutes to go. Crown were caught again in the 91st minute, another breakaway and Abass again found Nguyen Tang Tuan, who had time to pick his spot for number five with a neat curling shot. Not to be denied, Crown refused to give up and Leng Makara's run and cross was headed in by Bisan from close range in the fourth minute of stoppage time, to close out the game at 5-2, as referee Surasak from Thailand blew for full-time.
Sam Schweingruber gave this reaction at the final whistle to the packed press room: "When you have a game plan and everyone knows what you want to do, and after 2 minutes you are already 1-zero down, your plan is all messed up. I am extremely proud of the reaction my team showed in the first 25 minutes of the 2nd half - we were dominant and created quite a lot of good chances but were unlucky not to equalise at that stage. In a cup semi-final, losing 2-1 or 5-2 is not much of a difference, and you can see at the end we made changes and pushed up, gave everything and unfortunately it wasn't enough. We played a very strong team, compliments to our opponents, they have good individual skills and a good understanding of each other. I think I was most impressed today with the performance of the goalkeeper. We are usually quite good on our set pieces and you could see how comfortable he was in dealing with our crosses and corner kicks. I was also impressed with their striking force, good runs and dangerous when they had the ball." Crown will now meet the other beaten semi-finalist, Hoang Anh Attapeu, who lost 5-4 on penalties to Ayeyawady after a 1-1 draw on 90 minutes, in the 3rd-place play-off on Sunday.
PPCFC v Binh Duong: Yaty, Pheng (Makara 83), Srin (Da 82), Boris, Obadin, Sothy (Thierry 72), Sokumpheak, Sokthorn (Borey 66), Bosma, Pellegrino, Ngwa (Bisan 77). Subs not used: Ary, Suhana. Bookings: Pellegrino, Obadin. MOTM: Pellegrino. Goals: Bosma (66), Bisan (90+4).