Hoàng Anh Gia Lai celebrate their win against HCM City in the penultimate round of the V.League 1 over the weekend. — Photo doisongvietnam.vn
HCM CITY — Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) defeated HCM City 2-1 in their penultimate V.League 1 match of the season to officially escape relegation on Saturday.
The game was held at Thống Nhất Stadium in HCM City.
HCM City will finish second in the league, while Hà Nội FC were crowned champions with two matches to spare.
Although the hosts had nothing to play for, they named a strong line-up and were determined to make a game of it.
The away side started the better and were on top in the first half, but they couldn't find a breakthrough.
After the break, the visiting side had the opener in the 61st minute from a penalty after Hữu Tuấn scythed down HAGL's Vũ Văn Thanh in the penalty area. Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy made no mistake from the spot.
However, just 10 minutes later, Trần Phi Sơn of HCM City was taken down by Duy in the HAGL box, allowing Sơn to level the score for HCM City from the resulting penalty.
Following Sơn’s goal, HCM City ramped up the pressure but couldn’t get behind HAGL’s defence.
In the dying minutes, HAGL won another penalty as national team star Nguyen Van Toan raced through and was fouled. This time Thanh stepped up and scored the decisive goal for HAGL.
With this win, HAGL are officially safe from relegation in 10th out of 14 teams in the league with 32 points, leaving Thanh Hóa and Khánh Hòa to battle it out to stay in the top-flight in the final round of fixtures on Wednesday, as both sides sit on 25 points.
“This is a very important win in the decisive time of HAGL. I am very happy and wish my team will return stronger. The match was very difficult but we have completed our task,” said coach Lee Tae-hoon of HAGL.
“The selection of foreign players of HAGL lacked luck. I am sure that next season our foreign footballers will be better. We will change strongly,” Lee added.
“I only want to say with my team that they don’t forget the difficulties they faced this year. HAGL tried their best, especially players wearing the national jersey. They moved and competed continuously so their physical strength isn’t good. HAGL promise to play well in the next season,” said 58-year-old Lee.
HAGL will next take on Khánh Hòa at home at Pleiku Stadium in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai in the last round on Wednesday.
After the national premier league ends, head coach of Việt Nam team, Park Hang-seo will announce the Vietnamese squad for the World Cup 2022 qualifiers in November.
HAGL are expected to contribute key players such as striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn, midfielders Thanh and Nguyễn Tuấn Anh as well as defender Hồng Duy. — VNS