|Power play: Nguyen Xuan Thanh of Becamex Binh Duong (centre) tries to run away from Hoang Anh Gia Lai defenders during their V.League 1 match yesterday. Hoang Anh Gia Lai win 2-1. — VNS Photo Tuan Tu
HA NOI (VNS) — Hoang Anh Gia Lai tasted victory yesterday after 11 matches in a row that they either lost or could only force a draw.
The former winners came from behind to beat defending champions Becamex Binh Duong 2-1 in the 17th round match of the V.League 1 on their home turf in Pleiku City.
Hoang Thanh Tung scored a double, one goal in each half, after Binh Duong's early opener by Le Cong Vinh.
The victory also helps Hoang Anh Gia Lai jump one step up to No 12 position with 13 points, and keep a small distance from the relegation area.
The national top striker Vinh opened the score just two minutes into the game.
The three-time Golden Ball winner received a ball from the right wing, sprinted to the box and shot into the far left corner, beating goalkeeper Pham Van Tien.
Things happened so fast that none of the defenders of the host side could even react to stop Vinh.
But surprises came in later.
An initial free kick from Hoang Anh Gia Lai's Bui Tran Vu bounced back and came to Tung who sent the follow-up into the net with ease in the 26th minute.
The midfielder continued a display of his skills, making the whole stadium break into a cheer with an outstanding volley that went through all Binh Duong players into the net just eight minutes after the interval.
It was the fifth match on home ground that Hoang Anh Gia Lai did not lose.
Meanwhile, it was the second failure in a row for the champions who continue to stay second in the ranking table for the second week.
Coach Guillaume Graechen could not hide his happiness during the post-match briefing.
The French said my players found their instinct of scoring, "that we thought they had lost in the previous rounds. Their stable minds were also key points."
Despite an early goal that Binh Duong scored, they did not give up, remained confident and played their best.
Binh Duong coach Mai Duc Chung did not talk much, merely attributing his loss to this being an unlucky day.
Responding to Chung's words, Graechen said he did not agree with Chung, and Binh Duong lost because their players' scoring skills were not sharp enough in this match.
Graechen, who received strong support from the team management despite poor performance, believed his team would stay with the league if his players could sustain the way they played yesterday.
In their first leg round match last month, Hoang Anh Gia Lai were beaten 1-4.
In another match, leader Thanh Hoa still continue to be at the top after their 1-2 loss to hosts Dong Tam Long An yesterday.
Tran Chi Cong headed strongly to open the score for the hosts in the 22nd minute.
Thanh Hoa's Hoang Dinh Tung scored a leveller with a close-range shot in the second half.
His teammate, Nguyen The Duong, however, ended up with an own goal towards the end of the match, sending Thanh Hoa home empty-handed.
Dong Tam Long An rank fifth after their win, just a two points below the tournament's top three.
Elsewhere, Dong Thap lost 1-2 to Hai Phong on home soil; Ha Noi T&T beat hosts Can Tho 3-1; Sanna Khanh Hoa continued its perfect form to defeat Quang Nam 1-0; SHB Da Nang found their first win after three losses with a 2-1 victory over Dong Nai; and Song Lam Nghe An trounced Quang Ninh Coal 3-1. — VNS