|Midfielder Trần Minh Vương of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (right) tries to beat Đà Nẵng's midfielder Hoàng Minh Tâm during their match on Sunday. Hoàng Anh Gia Lai won 2-1. — Photo courtesy of VPF
HÀ NỘI — Hoàng Anh Gia Lai grabbed three important points from a 2-1 win over SHB Đà Nẵng to escape the bottom two in the V.League 1 on Sunday in Pleiku City.
Playing at home proved an advantage for the former champions who were in the second-to-last place. The hosts surprised their supporters with their first team, of which all 11 players were Vietnamese.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai wanted to prove that local players were able to manage the game although they were against three foreigners and one naturalised player in the Đà Nẵng side.
Just 10 minutes into the game Hoàng Anh Gia Lai's midfielder Trần Mình Vương shot missed the target by a miniscule margin.
Two minutes later striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn beat the Đà Nẵng defense and fed a ball to Vương whose shot sailed over the cross bar.
Despite the attacks, the hosts conceded a goal just five minutes after the break.
Goalkeeper Văn Trường denied Hà Đức Chinh's finish in the box but he failed to protect his net when Đỗ Merlo converted a deflected ball into an opener from a close range.
The visiting fans only celebrated for a few minutes.
National midfielder Lương Xuân Trường brought a perfect ball to Vương who sent it through Đà Nẵng's defenders to home.
Đà Nẵng increased the pace as they did not want to go home empty-handed while Hoàng Anh Gia Lai wanted another goal to seal their win.
Striker Toàn assisted midfielder Châu Ngọc Quang who scored his first goal of the season in the 78th minute.
"We have tried to bring into play all of our power with 100 per cent local players while working hard to prevent their (Đà Nẵng) foreigners from doing their job," said Trường who was the MVP of the match.
"Yes, it was a little nerve-wracking playing against a team with foreign members, especially Đà Nẵng with Merlo who has been here for a long time and is very talented.
"We won this match but we still have things to improve in the rest of the league. It is a valuable win for us at this time when we are struggling to avoid relegation."
Speaking to reporters after the match coach Lee Tae-hoon of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai said none of his foreign players could play because of injuries. However Vietnamese players did a good job and they earned an important win. The whole team must work harder to ensure positive results in the last four matches because their current position is not safe.
Coach Lê Huỳnh Đức of Đà Nẵng however was not satisfied with the game, saying that the referees were on the hosts’ side and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai did not play beautiful football.
"I did not see beautiful football in this match. They tried to foul my players from the beginning, while the referee was unduly harsh on us," Đức said.
"We were out of control and we could not play well," said the former national striker, adding that Hoàng Anh Gia Lai's first goal was from an offside position.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai are now 12th out of 14 with 26 points while Đà Nẵng are 10th with 27. Both are not yet safe from relegation as they have only six and seven points more than bottom-placed Sanna Khánh Hòa who have 20 while there are four matches to go.
In other matches, HCM City narrowed the gap with leader Hà Nội FC after they beat 10-man Sông Lam Nghệ An 2-1 on Sunday in Vinh City. They are second place with 41 points, two behind Hà Nội whose match against Nam Định has been moved to September 11 as the national champions are busy with their AFC Cup Inter-zone final with Altyn Asyr.
Elsewhere, Hải Phòng defeated Viettel 2-1 on home turf to jump to the middle of the ranking; Quảng Ninh lost 0-1 to visiting Becamex Bình Dương then they lost their third-place to their rival; Thanh Hóa are in trouble after their 0-2 loss to Sài Gòn. They are now second from last with 25 points. — VNS