Thanh Hóa secured their place in the V.League 1 yesterday with a 1-0 win over Phố Hiến FC, who will remain in V.League 2. — Photo thethao247.vn
NGHỆ AN — Thanh Hóa secured their place in the V.League 1 yesterday with a 1-0 win over Phố Hiến FC, who will remain in V.League 2.
The all-or-nothing match started slowly at Vinh Stadium in the central province of Nghệ An, with neither team wanting to commit players forward.
The first chance fell to Thanh Hoá’s Trọng Hùng, but his shot was easily saved by goalkeeper Bửu Ngọc. The lively Hùng was again denied in the 28th minute, and the teams reached half time goalless.
Thanh Hóa turned up the pressure in the second half and their efforts were rewarded with a sweet left-footed volley from Văn Thắng in the 53rd minute.
There was still time for late drama, with Phố Hiến finding the back of the net in the fifth minute of time added on, but the referee's assistant had his flag up for offside.
Thanh Hóa finished second from bottom in the national premier league, while Phố Hiến came second in V.League 2 to qualify for the play-off.
Though Thanh Hoá played at a higher level with experienced players, they were expected to struggle without their foreign stars, who were ineligible for selection.
Thanh Hoá had previously suffered 11 winless matches in a row, with nine defeats and two draws, during which they scored 10 and conceded 31 goals.
Phố Hiến were in good form a year on from promotion to the second tier, with squad made up of solely Vietnamese players.
Coach Hứa Hiển Vinh has 26 players in his squad with an average age of 19.5 years old. Among them, Nguyễn Xuân Nam was the V.League 2’s top scorer this season with 14 goals.
They also fielded several U22 national players including strikers Phạm Đức Thông and Lê Ngọc Bảo, and midfielders Huỳnh Tiến Đạt, Nguyễn Trọng Long and Martin Lo. —VNS