Hoàng Anh Gia Lai's Nguyễn Văn Toàn vies for a ball against Sông Lam Nghệ An's defender Trần Đình Đồng during their V.League match yesterday. Hoàng Anh Gia Lain won 3-2. VNA/VNS Photo Dư Toán
HÀ NỘI — It has been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
Midfielder Nguyễn Tuấn Anh hasn’t scored for more than four and a half years, but he found the back of the net yesterday to help Hoàng Anh Gia Lai beat Sông Lam Nghệ An 3-2 in the Central Highlands city of Pleiku yesterday.
It was only his second ever goal in the national premier league and his first for four years, six months and 17 days.
The 24-year-old has been considered one of talented midfielders that Việt Nam football has had but his career has been plagued by injuries keeping him out of local and international tournaments.
After long-time treatment in South Korea he was named captain of the team.
Anh scored the second goal for the hosts just before halftime, which was the 8,000th goal since the V.League started in 1980.
The national team player received the ball 25 metres from goal and his curling effort went over two Sông Lam Nghệ An’s defenders and out of goalkeeper Trần Nguyên Mạnh’s.
After a hard-fought draw with reigning champions Hà Nội FC, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai were feeling the pace and couldn’t find the net in the closing stages to avoid defeat.
The hosts opened their account on 24 minutes through striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn.
Midfielder Trần Minh Vương gave a smart ball to Toàn whose finish from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection off Hoàng Văn Khánh before hitting the net.
Hồ Khắc Ngọc leveled for Sông Lam Nghệ An with a 16.5m free kick that was so rapid that Dutch goalkeeper Wieger Setsma had no chance.
On 43 minutes Anh put the home team 2-1 in front.
The second half saw Sông Lam Nghệ An go on the front foot threatening Sietsma many times.
But as they searched for an equiliser, the home side hit them on the counter attack.
This time Toàn produced a long-distance pass to Vương who broke the off-side trap to finish in the far corner at the 81st mark.
Two minutes later Hồ Tuấn Tài narrowed the score but as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes they could not draw level.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai jump one place to third from the bottom with 19 points. Sông Lam Nghệ An sit in fifth with 23 points.
Elsewhere, HCM City stay top despite only managing a 3-3 draw away to Thanh Hoá.
Vũ Anh Tuấn and Huỳnh Văn Thanh put HCM City 2-0 ahead after just 18 minutes. American Mansaray Victor Nabay scored to make it 3-0 at the 63th.
But three late goals from Phạm Văn Hội (75th), Lê Văn Thắng (76th) and Nguyễn Minh Tùng in the extra time left the league leaders feeling they let the points slip.
Hà Nội beat Sài Gòn 4-1 with a double by Senegalese striker Pape Omar Faye, and captain Nguyễn Văn Quyết and Nguyễn Quang Hải scored one each.
Sài Gòn’s only goal went to Geovane Silveira in the last second of the first half.
In other matches, Becamex Bình Dương were tied 1-1 by Quảng Nam; Hải Phòng beat Quảng Ninh 3-2; SHB Đà Nẵng won 2-0 over Nam Định. — VNS