Viettel vs Sài Gòn FC at Hàng Đẫy Stadium in Hà Nội over the weekend. Viettel beat Sài Gòn 1-0. Photo danviet.vn
HÀ NỘI — Viettel have defeated Sài Gòn FC 1-0 at the Hàng Đẫy Stadium in Hà Nội as the V.League 1 season got back underway with a top of the table clash.
The injury-time goal from Vũ Minh Tuấn condemned the league leaders Sài Gòn to their first defeat of the campaign.
The visitors from the south controlled the early exchanges but they couldn’t find a way past the solid Viettel defence.
Their goal threat was blunted in the 33rd minute as Sài Gòn’s main striker Pedro Paulo was injured and had to be replaced by Nguyễn Vũ Tín.
In the following minutes, Viettel poured on the pressure and put Phạm Văn Phong's goal under pressure. However, Phong pulled out some smart saves and the post also came to his rescue on one occasion.
Viettel snatched all three points in the 93rd minute thanks to Tuấn. Defender Quế Ngọc Hải played a superb long pass over the top which Tuấn latched on to and steered past goalkeeper Phong.
The result meant Viettel cut Sai Gon FC's lead at the top to one point.
In other matches on Saturday, striker Nguyễn Công Phượng scored twice to help HCM City FC thrash Nam Định 5-1 at their home turf.
City's coach Chung Hae-seong used a 3-4-3 formation that favoured attack against the unfancied Nam Định and the decision paid off the 14th minute. Goalkeeper Đinh Xuân Việt flapped at a cross and Costa Rican striker Ariel Rodriguez was able to tap in for the easiest of finishes.
The early goal forced the visitors to abandon their defensive game plan but to no avail, as HCM City dominated possession thanks to solid performances from Seo Yong-duk and Đỗ Văn Thuận in midfield.
Striker Phượng kept up his impressive V.League 1 form with two beautiful goals in the 22nd and 46th minutes. For both strikes, Phượng used his speed to skip past the visitors' defenders, before firing the ball past Nam Định’s goalkeeper Trần Liêm Điều.
The visitors pulled one goal back late in added time in the first half through Brazilian Rafaelson, but HCM City would pull away again in the second half.
In the 68th minute, City's Ngô Hoàng Thịnh launched a speculative shot which goalkeeper Điệu inexplicably mishandled and allowed into his net to make the score 4-1.
Lâm Ti Phông put the icing on top with another goal in the 79th minute, condemning Nam Định to a 5-1 defeat.
Elsewhere, defending champions Hà Nội drew with Quảng Nam 2-2; Hồng Lĩnh Hà Tĩnh bested Thanh Hóa 2-1; Hoàng Anh Gia Lai lost to Sông Lam Nghệ An 0-2; Quảng Ninh Coal drew with Becamex Bình Dương 2-2; and SHB Đà Nẵng defeated Hải Phòng 1-0. — VNS