|Nguyễn Quang Hải of Hà Nội FC (centre) is surrounded by Hoàng Anh Gia Lai during their V.League match. Hoàng Anh Gia Lai win 3-2. — VNS Photo Tuấn Tú|
HÀ NỘI — Hoàng Anh Gia Lai broke their five–match winless streak yesterday, beating Hà Nội FC 3-2 in the V. League Round 23 match on their home soil in Pleiku City.
With a win over the league leader, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai pocketed 24 points, 13 more than the bottom-placed Long An with only three matches left. It means that the team which is under a new coach and new technical director have successfully avoided relegation.
The visitors Hà Nội FC went ahead to open the score at the 14th minute.
Nguyễn Văn Dũng crept into the back of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai’s defence to convert a long pass to the box from teammate Sầm Ngọc Đức into the opener.
The hosts needed seven minutes to equalise when Trần Minh Vương’s free kick went over Hà Nội FC’s defenders to the far corner of goalkeeper Văn Công.
It was nearly 2-1 for Hà Nội, the defending champions, when Oseni Ganiyu Bolaji’s finish found the net but while the Nigerian striker was celebrating, the referee refused the goal because he was in the off-side position.
Former winners Hoàng Anh Gia Lai went ahead 12 minutes after the interval.
Defender Lê Văn Sơn left two Hà Nội players behind before his straight low shoot.
It was an equal result again when the visiting side received a penalty kick after midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải was down in the box area.
National team member Nguyễn Văn Quyết did not waste his chance.
Coach Dương Minh Ninh of the hosts decided to implement some changes. He put his key midfielder Nguyễn Tuấn Anh in the field for the first time after months of rest because of injuries.
Anh replaced Vương who missed making a double with a shot that hit the bar at the 77th minute.
Anh did a good job on his return. He launched an attack and passed the ball to striker Văn Toàn who broke through Hà Nội’s defence before sending it to Nguyễn Công Phượng who tapped in the empty net.
Phượng’s future will be decided next week as Hoàng Anh Gia Lai boss Đoàn Nguyên Đức will meet and talk with representatives from Japan’s Mito Hollyhock FC.
If the two sides agree, Phượng will play for the club for the second time, following his first loan transfer when he played for Hollyhock in the 2015-16 season.
“Both teams played well today but luck stood by our side. And we deserve the win after what we have done,” Phượng said.
“We are in a good mood under the reign of new coach Ninh and director Chung. They created some fresh air in our team. They led us to one draw and one win,” he said.
Speaking at the post-match conference coach Chu Đình Nghiêm of Hà Nội FC said Hà Nội and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai played in similar vein. But his team’s arch-rivals often bagged positive results especially when the two sides met in Pleiku.
“We lost our focus for a moment and we lost. We have to accept the defeat,” Nghiêm said.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai jumped to No 11 place temporarily after the early match of the round. Hà Nội stayed on top but their position may change when their closest rivals Quảng Nam and FLC Thanh Hóa play.
Thanh Hóa will face relegated Long An on an away ground today while Quảng Nam will visit SHB Đà Nẵng tomorrow.
Elsewhere, Sanna Khánh Hòa will host Sông Lam Nghệ An; Hải Phòng will see Quảng Ninh Coal; Becamex Bình Dương will welcome Cần Thơ; and HCM City will entertain Sài Gòn FC in a city derby match. — VNS