|Viettel celebrate winning the V.League 1 yesterday. Photo dantri.com.vn|
HÀ NỘI — Viettel won the V.League 1 championship in a dramatic finale yesterday, thanks to a 1-0 win over Sài Gòn FC.
The triumph marks a return to the top for one of the country’s most storied teams, who had a record 18 top-flight triumphs in their previous incarnation as Thể Công (or Military Team) but fell from grace and endured several years in the lower divisions before returning to the highest level of local football just last year.
Coach Trương Việt Hòang's men came into the match knowing they would have to equal or better Hà Nội FC’s result against Quảng Ninh Coal, as the defending champions were a mere two points behind at kick-off yesterday.
While Viettel had more to play for, Sài Gòn started brightly at Thống Nhất Stadium, determined to be more than a bystander at Viettel’s coronation.
The first goal of the day came in Quảng Ninh, where Nguyễn Quang Hải put Hà Nội FC ahead and his side into first position about 12 minutes in, but their league table lead wouldn’t last long.
Just five minutes later, Viettel’s Brazilian forward Bruno Cunha scored the decisive goal with a superb far post header after a delicious free-kick delivery from midfield starlet Nguyễn Hoàng Đức.
|Bruno Cantanhede (centre) scores the only goal for Viettel in the match against Sài Gòn FC in the last match of the V.League 1 yesterday. — Photo zing.vn|
Viettel had another pair of chances in the first half, with the best falling to Vũ Minh Tuấn, but his tame effort was easily saved.
Just before the intermission in Quảng Ninh, Hà Nội’s Nguyễn Văn Quyết doubled his side’s advantage, putting the pressure firmly on Viettel to hold strong and defend their slender lead.
In the second half Hà Nội cruised to a 4-0 win over Quảng Ninh who had nothing to play for, while Viettel were made to sweat it out right to the final minutes.
While the second half was a tight affair and Viettel were unable to get a second goal and some daylight, in truth Sài Gòn offered little attacking threat, bar some half-chances through set pieces and crosses.
As the final minutes ticked down Viettel did what they’ve done so well all season, namely defend with poise and comfort, as star defenders Bùi Tiến Dũng and Quế Ngọc Hải formed an impregnable rearguard.
When the full-time whistle went players, fans and coaches alike erupted into celebrations that undoubtedly went long into the night, as the country’s most storied team had secured their first title in 22 years. — VNS
|Fans celebrate Viettel’s win yesterday. — Photo zing.vn|