|Third time's a charm: Abass Cheikh Dieng of Becamex Binh Duong (left) vies for the ball against Dong Tam Long An's Tran Dinh Hung during their V-League 23rd round match. Binh Duong led 3-1 to win the tournament. – VNS Photo Duong Thu
HA NOI (VNS) — Becamex Binh Duong became champions of the V-League with one match in hand after a 3-1 win over host Dong Tam Long An yesterday at Tan An Stadium.
The new champions had earned 48 points after 21 matches, four points more than their closest rival, Ha Noi T&T, who lost 1-2 yesterday to SHB Da Nang at Chi Lang Stadium.
Binh Duong became the first Vietnamese team to win the V-League for the third time. Their previous titles were in 2007 and 2008.
A win over lower-level Long An was expected, but no one anticipated a goal that would be scored in record time, just 15 second after the beginning whistle by referee Nguyen Quoc Hung.
A ball was strongly passed to Long An's side and Trinh Quang Vinh rocketed to manage it in the box and shot. It was 1-0 for the visitors, even as many home fans had not yet found their seats.
The surprise seemed to have encouraged the two-time champions, who attacked consecutively, offering no mercy to the defenders of the hosts, who were exhausted by the resistance during the first 30 minutes.
Binh Duong then doubled the score with a rapid attack, as Dang Van Thanh brought the ball to Abass Cheikh Dieng, who had no difficulty taking it through a tired team and reaching the net.
The Senegalese striker had his second goal just seven minutes after that, with a close-range shoot-out.
Long An finally found their rare chance during the additional time in the first half when Binh Duong's players thought of a break.
Oseni Ganiyu Bolayi narrowed the score with a straight shot to the far corner of goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong.
"We have not prepared for the title for this match. We have thought things could only be finalised after the last game against Da Nang. I praise my players who have tried their best. And we deserve to lift the Cup," said coach Nguyen Thanh Son of Binh Duong at the post-match briefing.
"We target the third win every season. We shopped a lot to make the dream come true, but failed. After six long years of great effort we did make it," he said.
A huge bonus of VND10 billion (US$476,000) from V-League organisers and sponsors will be handed over to the winner during their celebration.
The team also hopes to win a double title this year as they play the National Cup final match against Hai Phong on August 17.
At Chi Lang Stadium, Ha Noi T&T hoped to at least maintain a one-point gap with Binh Duong so they could defend their title.
The defending champions went ahead with a goal in the 18th minute, but they failed to protect their lead.
News of the Binh Duong vs Long An score, which was updated continuously, strongly affected the Hanoians. They played even worse in the second half, leaving the field for the host's Da Nang's solo performance.
Goals by Zbrun Matias Jose and Nguyen Vu Phong came step by step, dropping the champions to second place in the ranking table.
Da Nang's victory not only helped Binh Duong pocket an early win, but also helped them compete the third position against Thanh Hoa, who yesterday, on their home ground, beat Hung Vuong An Giang 1-0.
Da Nang had 38 points, two less than Thanh Hoa.
In the final round match this weekend they need a win, while Thanh Hoa must draw or lose to win a bronze medal.
Da Nang will play the newly-crowned Binh Duong and Thanh Hoa will face Ha Noi T&T.
Elsewhere, Hai Phong beat Quang Ninh Coal 2-1; Song Lam Nghe An tied Hoang Anh Gia Lai 0-0 and Quang Nam defeated Dong Nai 1-0. — VNS