HA NOI (VNS)— A win over Quang Ninh Coal in the 13th round match yesterday made Thanh Hoa champion of the V-League's first leg.
The 3-2 victory, Thanh Hoa's eighth win, brought their points to 26, which is six more than the second-placed Becamex Binh Duong.
Although having the advantage of playing at home, Thanh Hoa were the first to suffer a goal loss.
Striker Nguyen Hai Huy's low header touched the ground first and went to the net after a counter-attack of the visitors at the 14th minute.
The impatient hosts immediately reshaped their line-up and went forward seeking a leveller.
A number of chances were missed as both Nghiem Xuan Tu and Nastja Ceh failed to convert them into goals.
Huy scored his double just 15 minutes later. He broke Thanh Hoa's off-side trap, managed to bring the ball in to the box before making a drop over goalkeeper Nguyen Viet Nam's head into the net.
Coach Mai Duc Chung expressed dissatisfaction over his players' performance.
He forced all players to raise the level of performance, strongly resisting Quang Ninh's domination.
Their effort brought result at the 32nd minute as Danny van Baken gave the ball to Le Duc Tuan in the box and he narrowed the score, also with a header.
It was 2-2 for the hosts just some minutes later.
Captain Ceh's free kick touched the cross bar before coming to Tuan whose strong tap found the net.
Both sides changed their players in the second half. But only Thanh Hoa succeeded.
Substitute Le Quoc Phuong gave his teammate Le Van Tan a perfect ball to make it the third goal for the hosts at seventh minute after the break. Phuong then wasted at least three chances to score his own goal.
Quang Ninh, with 14 points, rank sixth.
In another fixture of the V-League, Binh Duong will entertain former champions
Song Lam Nghe An on their home turf at the Go Dau Stadium.
This can be called a Nghe An derby as at least four key players in Binh Duong's line-up are originally from Nghe An.
"In my heart, Nghe An is a ‘holy land' where I was born, grew up and Song Lam Nghe An gave me a name (known by many people) of Trong Hoang today," said Binh Duong's national midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang.
"The match against my home-town team will bring a lot of emotion. But as a professional athlete, I would play professional football. I will be on the side of the team whose jersey I am wearing."
While Binh Duong are at second place, Nghe An are struggling in the middle of the table, losing all two recent matches. They stand at seventh place with 13 points after nine games.
Today in Ha Noi, hosts Ha Noi T&T will play Quang Nam at the Hang Day
Stadium. In Da Nang, SHB Da Nang will host Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
Tomorrow, the two teams at the bottom, Dong Tam Long An and Hung Vuong An Giang, will face each other. — VNS