Red-hot Plazibat ensures Home emerge victorious in Hanoi

Croatian marksman Stipe Plazibat scored four goals to help Home United edge Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh 5-4 in the AFC Cup Group H clash at My Dinh National Stadium on Wednesday night.

The other Home goal was scored by Khairul Nizam as Home went top of the group despite missing three key players for this game.

First-choice goalkeeper Hassan Sunny injured his ribs a day before the game, South Korean playmaker Song Ui Young was suspended while Singapore vice-captain Hariss Harun was ineligible, but it mattered little for the Protectors.

It could have been 5-5 right at the death, but Home left-back Sirina Camara produced a superb challenge to deny substitute Nguyen Xuan Hung from converting inside the box

The Protectors got off to a fantastic start by scoring inside 11 minutes, with Nizam connecting well with Izzdin’s diagonal ball to lash home a thunderous first-time volley into the top left corner.

They doubled their advantage four minutes later, with Plazibat converting from the spot after he was adjudged to have been brought down in the box by Than Quang Ninh centre-back Nguyen Minh Tung

However, the home side came roaring back towards the end of the first half, scoring two to level the scores before half-time.

Stipe Plazibat was unstoppable

Firstly on 34 minutes, Home right-back Juma’at Jantan put through his own net while trying to clear Pham Nguyen Sa’s right-wing cross.

Just 11 minutes later, Bui Van Hieu’s header bounced off the My Dinh turf before flying past the bemused Home stand-in custodian Eko Pradana Putra.

Than Quang Ninh dominated the start of the second half and had a goal disallowed for offside, but it was Home who retook the lead on 64 minutes.

Plazibat exchanged passes with Faris Ramli, before curling home a peach of a strike into the bottom right corner.

The duo linked up well again five minutes later, with Plazibat sweeping home a superb first-time finish just inside the box to complete his hat-trick and put Home 4-2 up.

Than Quang Ninh refused to back down and pulled one back on 78 minutes, with captain Vu Minh Tuan’s shot getting a deflection off Abdil Qaiyyim before evading Eko.

Home regained their two-goal advantage in the 86th minute, with Croatian substitute Marijan Suto unselfishly teeing up Plazibat for his fourth goal of the night in a breakaway move.

The hosts then made it nervy for the visitors by pulling another one back deep into injury time, with Nghiem Xuan Tu’s free-kick from the left looping over the despairing reach of Eko.

It could have been 5-5 right at the death, but Home left-back Sirina Camara produced a superb challenge to deny substitute Nguyen Xuan Hung from converting inside the box.

Eventually, Home edged the nine-goal thriller and clinched another precious three points in their bid to qualify for the zonal semi-finals.

Photo: Home