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Hong Kong make their point but late assault not enough as Turkmenistan hold on for World Cup qualifying draw

Hong Kong had to settle for a 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw with Turkmenistan after equalising twice and launching a late assault on the visitors’ goal, on a night of breathless, exhilarating action at the national stadium.

The only shame was that only 6,601 fans were there to see it, albeit they created the racket of a crowd 10 times that size in So Kon Po.

Ruslan Mingazov, the Kitchee winger, whose name was roundly booed before kick-off, was the almost inevitable source of both Turkmenistan goals. Wong Wai and Everton Camargo, with his fourth strike in four Hong Kong appearances, netted for the hosts.

After losing 4-0 in Iran on Thursday, Andersen made seven changes – this a game where he fancied his chances.

Hong Kong are progressing under Andersen, no question. They are energetic and brave and aggressive.

But there remains a penchant for blasting a revolver at their own feet.

Ruslan Mingazov was at the double for Turkmenistan at Hong Kong Stadium. Photo: Elson Li

Arslan Amanov claimed the assist for Mingazov’s opener, but the hosts did their bit to help the reigning Hong Kong Premier League player of the year.

Vas Nunez prevented striker Altymyrat Annadurdyyev from receiving the pass, but instead of clearing the danger, allowed the ball to travel to the left. Nunez was horrified when he turned to see Mingazov scampering unaccompanied onto the ball. The winger drew Yapp Hung-fai, before lifting a delicate finish over the keeper.

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Eight minutes later, right-back Yue Tze-nam drove onto a smart back-heel from Camargo deep in Turkmenistan territory. The cross was hard and flat and met by Wai, powering a header that zipped beyond the reach of Rasul Charyyev.

Hong Kong thought they had turned the game on its head when Philip Chan Siu-kwan headed home a Wong free-kick.

The roars of the ultras stuck in their throats, however, when they spied a raised flag, Chan having prematurely begun his run.

Turkmenistan stirred again around the half-hour. Vepa Jumayev smacked the bar from 18 yards after a slick corner routine. The loose ball was slammed into the net by Velmyrat Ballykov, but a linesman’s flag cut-short some exuberant celebrations.

Meilis Durdyev battles past Wong Wai.

There was nothing overstated about the manner in which Mingazov marked his second goal six minutes later. He held up his hands, apparently by way of apology, but the scorer had run to the rump of the home support to make the gesture, stoking the anger of locals already miffed at the concession of another preventable goal.

Amanov accelerated past Fernando’s limp challenge, then steered a cross to the front post, where Mingazov made decisive contact with his head.

Tan Chun-lok clipped the bar with a curling strike, 11 minutes after half-time.

Andersen duly replaced midfielder Chan with striker Matt Orr. And nine minutes later, Camargo equalised with a beautiful, instinctive strike.

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Charyyev wiped out Ata Geldiyev, as the keeper hurtled out to punch clear a Wong free-kick from deep on the left. The ball rushed towards Camargo, who – with keeper and centre-back flat out – directed a controlled effort beyond defenders desperately retreating to the goal line.

Orr’s close-range header bounced up and over, and Charryev saved superbly from Shinichi Chan, after pushing out Yue’s initial strike, as Hong Kong made all the late running.

Yhlas Magtymov skied a golden opportunity on the counter-attack for Turkmenistan, and at the death substitute Poon Pui-hin’s rising drive was touched over by Charryev.

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