Southeast Asia Vietnam

Two Stalemates and A Last-Minute Winner in VL1 Restart

Krishna Sadhana

Football Tribe SEA Editor


The first three matches of the 2020 V.League 1 third round were played out on Friday, which signaled the restart of the Vietnamese top flight after a period of suspension brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The match between hosts Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh and Viettel FC provided some spice and drama for the audience, while matches between Hai Phong FC and Ho Chi Minh City FC as well as a South Vietnam derby match between Sai Gon FC and Becamex Binh Duong ended in stalemates.

Despite restrictions being put in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh remained fervent with the limited amount of supporters in the stands, and it seems that Nam Dinh would put their passionate supporters into good use once again this time out. However it was Viettel, the once-mighty powerhouse of Vietnamese football, who took the lead, thanks to a 1st minute goal by Ho Khac Ngoc. The quick opener stung Nam Dinh to life and they carved out chance after chance. The hosts’ hard work paid off in the 19th minute, with Rafaelson stinging in the equalizer for Nam Dinh with a superb strike from outside the penalty area.

With the scores level, the match soon became an open encounter for the two teams. Neither Nam Dinh or Viettel could make their chances count and tensions soon flare up during the match with the former’s players performing a number of fouls on the latter’s players. This culminated in a straight red card for Nam Dinh defender Lam Anh Quang, with the substitute being sent off in the 77th minute after performing a serious foul on Viettel’s Bruno Cantanhede.

As the match went into injury time at 1-1, it seems that both Nam Dinh and Viettel would share the spoils by the end of the day. However Viettel substitute Vu Minh Tuan had other ideas. The former Than Quang Ninh player unleashed a devastating shot to the bottom left corner of Dinh Xuan Viet’s net in the dying minutes of the match, ensuring a 2-1 victory for Viettel and all three points would be returning back to Hanoi with them.

In the earlier kick-off at Lach Tray Stadium, hosts Hai Phong managed to keep current league leaders Ho Chi Minh City at bay throughout the game. Despite the likes of Tran Phi Son, Amido Balde, Pape Diakite, and Nguyen Xuan Nam trying their best in prying the Hai Phong defense open, the hosts kept their calm and remained resolute throughout the whole 90, thus denying Ho Chi Minh City their third win in a row with a goalless draw.

A goalless draw was also the result of the encounter between Sai Gon and Binh Duong at the Thong Nhat Stadium. The men in pink, still stinging from that humiliating cup exit at the hands of V.League 2 side Ba Ria-Vung Tau, went on the offensive straight away and managed to threaten Binh Duong’s defense a number of times. Former V.League 1 champions Binh Duong also had their fair share of chances, but they also failed to make any of them count. In the end, neither team managed to have the advantage of the the other and as the referee blew for full time, both Sai Gon and Binh Duong were forced to share the points.

Despite failing to win their third match in a row, Ho Chi Minh City remained top of the 2020 V.League 1 table on 7 points, with Viettel closely behind them in 2nd place, the two sides being separated by goal difference. Sai Gon slipped down to third with 5 points, with Hai Phong behind them in 4th, once again goal difference separate these two. Binh Duong found themselves in 7th place with 4 points, while Nam Dinh are stranded on 10th with 3 points.

The third round action of the 2020 V.League 1 continue on Saturday, with Song Lam Nghe An hosting SHB Da Nang, Quang Nam FC welcoming Thanh Hoa FC, newly-promoted Hong Linh Ha Tinh paying Quang Ninh a visit, and defending champions Hanoi FC taking on Hoang Anh Gia Lai.