Ministry of National Defence put up a stouthearted display to share the spoils with Phnom Penh Crown after a merited 1-1 draw in a Metfone C-League tie at Olympic Stadium yesterday.
The Armymen, beaten fair and square by Naga in the first week, shook off the ill-effects of that loss and got down to play a robust game of containment against a side that decidedly showed greater verve and creativity in attack.
A lion’s share of credit for confining Crown to just one goal should go to young Oum Vichet, who had an outstanding day under the MND bar, a splendid recovery from that bad run against Naga.
The MND custodian came in the way of at least two mighty cracks at the goal by Crown striker George Bisan and the duel between the two worked up tremendous excitement throughout.
First, Bisan saw his header from the top of the small box well covered by Vichet early in the second half and then the Crown hitman’s fierce shot was spectacularly tipped over.
Both sides promised a goal here and there in the first 45 minutes, however neither could deliver. Then came a thrilling twist.
A minute into added time, Bin Chantha Thierry produced a scorcher from 25 yards out to give Crown a clear advantage.
But it didn’t take long after the resumption for the Armymen to strike back. An unsettling moment inside the Crown box presented Oub Kamol a dream opening and his angular shot got a fortunate touch off the goalpost before deflecting in.
The leveller kept MND buoyant and Crown pushing harder than ever before. A couple of set pieces brought no cheer to Crown and MND were more than happy to keep their corner tight.
TriAsia stun Boeung Ket
Stepping up to the highest class of football this season, TriAsia Phnom Penh fired a warning shot that they could trouble the best in the business by producing a late winner to beat 2012 champions and last year’s runners-up Boeung Ket Rubber Field by the odd goal in three at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
A first half of intense action ended in a flourish when Khut Dhani’s 44th minute goal was equalised in added-on time before the break by Dutch striker Elroy van der Hooft.
The 1-1 deadlock continued amid fierce exchanges until Sung Vireak found the mark in the 75th minute in what turned out to be a memorable match winner for TriAsia. Meanwhile, Western University proved to strong and wily for Asia Europe University in their 3-1 victory.
Sizzling show by Svay Rieng
Svay Rieng kicked off their title defence with gusto on Saturday at Old Stadium, giving Cambodia league newboys Albirex Niigata many rays of hope before crushing them with a late goal blitz to end up 6-2 victors.
The champions saw an early effort coming off the post, but it was Albirex’s Kazuki Tatsuta who opened the scoring. The Japanese forward chased onto to a ball over the top and struck a sublime lob that had the keeper stunned as it clipped off the post and in.
Svay Rieng were subdued until the break but came out firing in the second half with Nob Tola making the most of poor defending from Albirex off a corner Ly Saroth then produced a deft knock over the keeper’s head whilst on the run to put Svay Rieng ahead.
But just three minutes later, Albirex defender Hayato Nokato nodded in from a goalmouth scramble to level the scores once more.
Svay Rieng’s Nigerian defender stormed up the pitch to competently head home a cross on 73 minutes to swing things back their way. And it was to stay so.
Albirex keeper was left red-faced as a cross-cum-shot from Ly Saroth was fumbled into the net under no apparent pressure.
An own goal added to Svay Rieng’s advantage before Phany I Rotha sealed the rout in the first minute of time added on.
Earlier at Old Stadium, reigning Hun Sen Cup winners Naga Corp were held to a 0-0 draw by Takeo-based club Kirivong Sok Sen Chey.