V-League championship race goes to the wire after top three slip up
Hanoi T&T, Saigon XT and Danang all in the hunt on final day
By Vu Duc - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – The V-League championship will go right down to the final day as Hanoi T&T and SHB Danang suffered shock losses, while Saigon Xuan Thanh were held 1-1 by Becamex Binh Duong.
Leaders Hanoi T&T in hindsight could have wrapped up another crown with victory over Hoang Anh Gia Lai at home but things can go pear-shaped when you least expect it.
Hoang Anh, who had nothing to play for, were on top from the start and the Pleiku-based team opened the scoring after half an hour through Evaldo.
It was the same story in the second half as Aganun O. Olushola doubled the visitors’ lead in the 65th minute.
Shell-shocked Hanoi tried to hit back but when they netted in the first minute of injury time through Nguyen Van Quyet it was a mere consolation. Olushola rubbed salt into the wounds deep into injury time to steal a sensational result. However, Hanoi are still in control of their own destiny and travel to HCMC to face Saigon XT in a winner takes all title showdown.
SHB Danang also lost at home, 1-0 to Dong Thap thanks to a goal from Hai Anh and Saigon were held 1-1 by Binh Duong at Go Dau Stadium. Nguyen Tang Tuan opened for Binh Duong in the 31st minute but Antonio Carlos leveled for the visitors in the 46th minute.
Hanoi T&T are on 46 points, just one point ahead of second-placed Saigon Xuan Thanh and SHB Danang. Both teams have 45 points each but Saigon rank second thanks to goal difference.
While Hanoi T&T travel to Saigon on Sunday, a draw in that game combined with an SHB Danang victory at Ninh Binh would see the central side steal the title.
Tenth-placed Kienlongbank KG, who beat relegated Haiphong 3-1 at Lach Tray Stadium, 11th-positioned Hanoi Club, who were defeated 4-1 by Navibank Saigon, and 12th-placed Khatoco Khanh Hoa are on 29 points each. 13th-placed Dong Thap now have 27 points,13 points ahead of bottom-placed Haiphong.
In the final round, Dong Thap will play Thanh Hoa and Kienlongbank KG will take on Navibank Saigon in the battle to beat relegation.
The two bottom-placed teams will be relegated to the First Division while the third-last team will play off with the third-placed team in the First Division for a V-League berth.
Round 25 results
Song Lam 5 Ninh Binh 3
Navibank SG 4 Hanoi Club 1
Haiphong 1 Kienlongbank 3
SHB Danang 0 Dong Thap 1
Thanh Hoa 1 Khanh Hoa 2
Hanoi T&T 1 Hoang Anh 3
Binh Duong 1 Saigon XT 1
Tay Ninh 1 Hanoi 0
HCMC 3 An Giang 2
Dong Tam 1 Quang Ninh 0
Junior Danang 3 Dong Nai 3
TDC Binh Duong 2 Binh Dinh 1
Junior Hanoi 2 Can Tho 3
Lam Dong 1 Quang Nam 0
* Dong Tam Long An Tiles secured the First Division championship after beating Quang Ninh Coal 1-0 on Saturday, while bottom-placed HCMC were officially relegated to the Second Division.
The only goal from Ho Hai Phong in the 14th minute helped the leaders claim the crown, even though the First Division has one more round to go. The Long An Province-based team now have 48 points from 25 games, three more than Hanoi, who were defeated 1-0 by Tay Ninh in Tay Ninh Province, with 45 points.
Dong Tam and Hanoi already earned the two promotion spots to V-League next season, while Dong Nai, who drew 3-3 with Junior SHB Danang at Chi Lang Stadium, confirmed third place with 39 points, two points ahead of fourth-positioned Junior SHB Danang.
Despite a 3-2 win over Hung Vuong An Giang, HCMC were relegated to the Second Division for next season. HCMC have collected just 23 points from 25 games. Tay Ninh are 12th with Junior Hanoi, who were defeated 3-2 by Can Tho at Hang Day Stadium, 13th.
Tay Ninh or Junior Hanoi will battle it out next weekend to see who joins HCMC in the Second Division.