Hà Nội's midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải (second right) celebrates with teammates after opened the score of the match against SHB Đà Nẵng. Hà Nội win 2-1. — Photo foxsports.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội FC on Friday beat SHB Đà Nẵng 2-1 to extend their lead at the top of the V.League 1.
Playing away from home was no challenge for the defending champions, who were able to rest key striker Pape Omar on the bench.
The capital side scored both goals in the first half.
National team midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a sumptuous free-kick, before defender Trần Văn Kiên made it 2-0 just four minutes later with a strong run and finish.
Đà Nẵng replied just a minute after the interval as Argentinean captain Đỗ Merlo broke the offside trap and kicked the ball through goalkeeper Nguyễn Văn Công’s legs.
Công turned hero in the 71st minute as he saved Merlo's penalty after Kien handled in the box.
The win brought Hà Nội to 43 points and eight clear from HCM City, while Đà Nẵng are sixth with 27.
In another game yesterday, Becamex Bình Dương trounced Hoàng Anh Gia Lai 3-0 thanks to brace from national U22 striker Nguyễn Tiến Linh and Hồ Sỹ Giáp.
Bình Dương climb to fourth with a two-point gap to the top three.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai meanwhile drop back to No 11, on 23 points, as many as Sài Gòn and Hải Phòng who are in the bottom three.
Hải Phòng will visit Thanh Hoá on Sunday, with the hosts under new coach Mai Xuân Hợp.
The former national team player, 33, will become the youngest V.League coach in history.
He is the team's third manager this season and help Thanh Hoá’s U17 to win a national tournament on July 11.
Hợp replaced coach Vũ Quang Bảo who resigned three days ago after five winless matches. Bảo was on hot seat for little over a month as he was invited to take the position after Nguyễn Đức Thắng left in early July, saying club president Nguyễn Văn Đệ interfered too much in his job.
Under Bảo, Thanh Hoá won their two first matches but then suffered two draws and three losses and sit 10th on 25 points.
Bảo then became the team’s technical director but he resigned again a day later.
He is now coaching the V.League 2’s Cần Thơ, who are embroiled in a relegation battle.
On Sunday, HCM City will try to close the gap with Hà Nội against Quảng Ninh at home.
Having suffered surprise defeats to Khánh Hòa and Quảng Nam, the southern side have slipped far behind Hà Nội in the title race and face a tough test in third-placed Quảng Ninh.
The northern team have only lost one of their last 10 matches, but will have to do without suspended midfielder Nguyễn Hải Huy.
The Việt Nam Football Federation banned Huy for two matches and fined him VNĐ15 million (US$645) for elbowing defender Nguyễn Hạ Long of Nam Định last weekend. When Long was lying on the ground, Huy made contact with his head via his foot.
Huy is on stranger to controversy. Last year, he was banned for three matches and fined VNĐ20 million for a challenge that left Sanna Khánh Hòa midfielder Phạm Trùm Tỉnh with a broken rib.
In other matches, Nam Định will host Quảng Nam at Thiên Trường Stadium, Khánh Hòa will travel to Sông Lam Nghệ An in Vinh City and Viettel will take Sài Gòn at home. —VNS