Sài Gòn vs Quảng Ninh Coal in the last match of the first leg on Thursday. They tied goalless. Sài Gòn lead the first leg of V.League 1. — Photo dantri.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — With the first leg of the twice-postponed V.League 1 season over, Sài Gòn FC top the table with only one defeated in 13 matches.
The southern side played out a goalless draw with Quảng Ninh Coal in the last match of the first leg on Thursday to have 24 points with six wins, six draws and one loss.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic-shorted season, after 13 matches, the league has been split into the top eight teams to vie for the title and the bottom six to avoid relegation.
Rounding out the top eight with Sài Gòn are Viettel, Quảng Ninh Coal, Hà Nội FC, HCM City FC, Becamex Bình Dương, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and Hà Tĩnh.
Coach and president of Sài Gòn Vũ Tiến Thành said his team had the league's best defence so far, which he said was key to their success.
“We don’t impose a way of playing on our players. We control the ball in front of the opponent. Obviously, we play the best defence in this year’s league. That's the key to the team's success,” said Thành, whose side have only conceded seven goals in league play.
However, it won't be plain sailing in the second leg as the top eight teams are separated by a mere six points. Top teams like Hà Nội, Viettel, and HCM City City are less than four points behind.
“We have to try in each game because all the upcoming seven matches are finals. People always think we have good tactics and good players. But my players had to make every effort. I never thought that Sài Gòn could reach this position,” said Thành.
In other matches yesterday, HAGL thrashed 2019 runners-up HCM City FC 5-2 to secure their place in the top eight.
The victory took place after the chairman of HAGL Đoàn Nguyên Đức moved head coach Lee Tae-hoon to the role of technical director, while coach Nguyễn Văn Đàn and Dương Minh Ninh coached the team.
Played at Pleiku Stadium in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, HAGL and the visitors HCM City FC played out an enthralling encounter in front of national team head coach Park Hang-seo.
The home side took a 2-0 lead after just 17 minutes thanks to Kelly Kester and Nguyễn Văn Toàn. Chevaughn Walsh made it 3-0 just 35 minutes in, though Trần Phi Sơn pulled one back for City with a 42nd-minute penalty.
After the break, HAGL scored twice more to compound City's misery, with Damir Memovic and Vũ Văn Thanh both scoring within 20 minutes of the restart. Đỗ Văn Thuận added a consolation for the visitors late on.
“HCM City are well organised with a professional coach. Coach Chung Hae-seong (of HCM City FC) always creates excitement for players. However, today was probably due to the weather. Moreover, the HAGL players have changed their playstyle to score goals early,” said coach Đàn of HAGL.
Đàn said that in the past few days he tried to restore the spirit of his players.
“I have only partially helped, the players have played a lot, there has not been any big change. The important thing is to make them comfortable,” Đàn added.
Meanwhile, Đà Nẵng dropped to the bottom six after losing to Nam Định by a goal to nil.
The other five clubs fighting to avoid relegation are Thanh Hóa, Sông Lam Nghệ An, Nam Định, Hải Phòng and Quảng Nam. — VNS