Hà Nội FC's Nguyễn Quang Hải celebrates with teammates after scoring his second goal during the match against Viettel yesterday. Hà Nội won 5-2. - VNA/VNS Photo Trọng Đạt
HÀ NỘI - Hà Nội FC all but sealed the V.League 1 crown on Sunday as they came from behind to beat local rivals Viettel 5-2 after second-placed HCM City dropped points.
The win at the closed-doors Hàng Đẫy Stadium in the capital means the defending champions sit on 49 points, seven clear of HCM City, who drew 1-1 away to Nam Định earlier the same day.
Hà Nội were forced to play in an empty stadium after being censured for flare trouble in their last outing against Nam Định. However they still received loud support from fans who set up screens and speakers outside the ground.
The pressure of the crucial encounter was evident early, as the home side got off to a disastrous start. Bruno Cantanhede netted twice for Viettel in the first half, scoring a penalty 15 minutes in and a simple finish in the 39th minute after two Hà Nội's mistakes.
It looked like it just wasn't going to be the home side's night when Pape Omar Faye's tame penalty was easily saved by goalkeeper Xuân Sơn in the 43rd minute.
Things changed in the second period as Hà Nội got off the canvas and started landing body blows.
Just three minutes from the interval, talented midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải whipped in a corner which Nguyễn Thành Chung headed home.
The turning point when Viettel’s national team midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hoàng was sent off for his second yellow card in the 59th minute, opening the floodgates.
Just two minutes later netted Hải stepped up and fired home a trademark free-kick to equalise.
Captain Nguyễn Văn Quyết then scored a penalty in the 63rd minute before Hải completed his double in the 66th from just inside the box.
Chung put the icing on the cake with a tap in at the death.
The final whistle sent the fans outside, players and club officials alike into ecstasy, knowing a win against Sông Lam Nghệ An on Thursday will see them crowned champions.
Earlier, HCM City could only muster a 1-1 draw away to Nam Định at Thiên Trường Stadium.
The first half saw no goals for either side as the southern side chased the win they needed to keep their title hopes alive.
However it was the hosts who drew first blood, Pereira Diogo Junior scoring in the 59th minute.
It took until the 85th minute for HCM City to equalise, Nguyễn Hoàng Thiên scoring from long range, but it was too little too late.
In other fixtures yesterday, Quảng Ninh defeated Thanh Hoá 3-1 to maintain third position while Sông Lam Nghệ An trounced three-time champions Becamex Bình Dương 5-1 to jump to No 4. - VNS