Viet Nam News
PLEIKU CITY — Hoàng Anh Gia Lai lost to champions Hà Nội FC 5-3 in the V.League 1 on Wednesday at Pleiku Stadium in Gia Lai Province.
Despite the capital side having already secured the league title, the match drew much attention as both teams contributed multiple players to the national U23 team that has fared so well recently at the AFC U23 Championship in China in January and the recent Asian Games in Indonesia.
The away side came out of the blocks on fire, scoring four goals in the opening 41 minutes through Nigerian striker Oseni Ganiyu Bolayi’s brace and a goal each from midfielders Trương Văn Thái Quý and Hồ Minh Dĩ.
With the first half nearly closed, Joseph Zebar headed home to narrow the gap for the hosts.
After the break, the home team bounced back strongly with U23 striker Nguyễn Công Phượng and midfielder Triệu Việt Hưng scoring to cut the gap to 4-3.
However, substitute U23 player Đoàn Văn Hậu put paid to any hopes to a comeback by netting Hà Nội’s fifth and final goal.
The loss ended HAGL’s hopes of a top five finish, leaving them on 27 points after 23 matches, in 11th place in the 14-team table and facing a slim chance of relegation.
“Following three losses in a row, our initial goal is broken. Even, HAGL have fallen into a fight to stay the league. We will try our best in the next three games,” said HAGL coach Dương Minh Ninh after the match.
“However, I am satisfied about the competitive spirit of the whole team today. But the defence showed weak points, causing conceding goals,” Ninh added.
Striker Phượng has been one bright spot in this campaign, with his latest strike putting him on 11 league goals for the season.
Meanwhile, coach Chu Đình Nghiêm of Hà Nội was glad with his team’s result ahead of matches that mean more for the champions, particularly the second leg of the National Cup away to Bình Dương on Sunday. The first leg in the capital was a 3-3 draw.
“I am very satisfied with this victory. Some young players had chances to play in this game and they competed well. We didn’t care about the result of this game as we have already won the league with five games still to play. We only focused on giving fans an interesting match. We will have an important game in the upcoming National Cup’s semi-finals,” said Nghiêm.
In other matches played the same day, Bình Dương won Cần Thơ 1-0, Hải Phòng drew 1-1 with Nam Định and HCM City beat Sài Gòn 5-0.
Hà Nội FC top the rankings with 58 points, ahead of second-placed Khánh Hoà by 18 points and Thanh Hoá in third by 21. — VNS