HCM CITY (VNS) — Striker Abdullahi Suleiman grabbed an early brace within three minutes in the early part of a rain-sodden match at Vinh City, Nghe An, to help Binh Duong sink hosts Nghe An for a second time this week.
With the points they earned from the match, Binh Duong, who also defeated their opponent 2-1 last week, also took back the top place that they lost to Thanh Hoa after the withdrawal of Ninh Binh, who lost to Binh Duong in the first phase of the season.
Nghe An still languished in the ninth place with 13 points after drawing only one of their three latest matches.
The departure of trio defenders Hoang Van Binh, Au Van Hoan and midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang significantly reduced the strength of Song Lam Nghe An, who desperately wanted to prove that they were still a formidable opponent.
However, Binh Duong proved yesterday that they were too strong for the hosts, who attacked right after the opening whistle. Suleiman scored two goals in the 16th and 19th minutes to give his team a commanding lead only 20 minutes into the game.
The hosts bounced back with grit but came close to reducing the gap only once in the entire first half, when defender Tran Dinh Hoang's header hit the cross bar in the 25th minute. At the other end, Binh Duong concentrated on defence and was sharp in attacking.
The second half saw the home team enjoying more possession and attacking the visitors from all angles, from the left to the right to the centre, but they could not create any realistic goal-scoring opportunities in the face of Binh Duong's solid defence.
While the hosts piled forwards in search of goals in vain, the visiting team sought to extend their advantage despite the inaccuracy of their strikers.
In a surprise, Hai Phong beat in-form hosts Dong Nai 1-0 at Bien Hoa city to end the home team's winning run. English coach Dylan Kerr's team is now in seventh place with 16 points.
On Saturday, bottom-ranked Hung Vuong An Giang finally succeeded in finding their first victory of the season with a 2-0 win over Dong Tam Long An on home soil at Long Xuyen city. Strikers Dinh Hoang Max and Felix Ajala scored for the home team.
QNK Quang Ninh inflicted a second defeat on Thanh Hoa at Cam Pha Stadium after Nigerian striker Uche Iheruome scored the only point of the match to beat the visitors 1-0.
Thanh Hoa's second defeat in three games cast major doubt on Thanh Hoa's ability to obtain the title this season.
SHB Da Nang beat Hoang Anh Gia Lai 5-4 in an away match at Pleiku city to climb to fifth place with 18 points.
In the last match of the round today, defending champions Ha Noi T&T will travel to Tam Ky city in the central province of Quang Nam to take on hosts Quang Nam. — VNS