Round 16 of the 2020 V.League 1 season was played out across Monday and Tuesday, with both championship and relegation groups producing huge results that builds up more excitement as the Vietnamese top flight enters its final stretches. Defending V.League 1 champions Hanoi FC, who were struggling during the first half of the season, suddenly found themselves having a decent shout at retaining the title after their Round 16 match, while last-placed Quang Nam FC found themselves extending their own lifeline in their battle against relegation after winning their own Round 16 match.
A first half goal from captain Nguyen Van Quyet on Tuesday was enough to earn Hanoi a 1-0 win over Hong Linh Ha Tinh at the Hang Day Stadium, with the result, combined with Sai Gon FC’s 0-0 draw with Ho Chi Minh City FC in Monday’s Ho Chi Minh Derby at the Thong Nhat Stadium, allowed Hanoi to move up to 2nd place, just two points behind league leaders and city rivals Viettel FC. The Red Tornado did their part in retaining their stranglehold of the V.League 1 summit, edging out Becamex Binh Duong 1-0 courtesy of a first half Bruno Cantanhede penalty at the Hang Day on Monday.
The championship group’s Round 16 action was wrapped up by a home win for Than Quang Ninh, with the Hero Miner beating Hoang Anh Gia Lai 3-1 at the Cam Pha Stadium.
However, Round 16’s biggest result happened in the relegation group on Tuesday, with last-placed Quang Nam taking on Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh at a wet and rainy Tam Ky Stadium in Quang Nam Province. Champions of the V.League 1 just three years ago, Quang Nam had been undergoing a steady decline in the years after their shock championship win, finishing 11th and 9th in the years succeeding their title win. 2020 was Quang Nam’s worst season in recent memory, with only 9 points to their name after 15 matches.
With former Sai Gon and Thanh Hoa FC head coach Nguyen Thanh Cong taking the reins following Dao Quang Hung’s exit, Quang Nam knew that if they lose their game against Nam Dinh and closest competitors Hai Phong FC manage win their Round 16 match at the Lach Tray Stadium against a Thanh Hoa side safe from relegation in the simultaneous kick-off, the men in blue’s fate is pretty much sealed.
And Quang Nam couldn’t have asked for a worse start to their season-defining match after French striker Papa Ibou Kebe received a straight red from the referee after an awful foul on Nam Dinh’s Do Merlo. However, despite this setback, Quang Nam soldiered on and in the 38th minute it’s 10 versus 10 after Nam Dinh’s Phung Van Nhien received his marching orders after seeing yellow for the second time in this match. The foul that caused Van Nhien’s early shower also happened inside Nam Dinh’s penalty box, prompting the referee to award Quang Nam the spot kick.
Entrusted with the penalty, Quang Nam captain Dinh Thanh Trung made no mistake with his execution, giving his side the all-important 1-0 lead.
Quang Nam then sealed the three vital points four minutes into injury time, with Ha Minh Tuan smashing home virtually the last kick of the game to finish off Nam Dinh. However, Quang Nam’s happiness was short-lived after Hai Phong had beaten Thanh Hoa 2-0 thanks to a Joseph Mpande brace in the simultaneous kick-off, meaning that with only two matches to go in the relegation group, 14th placed Quang Nam are now four points adrift of Hai Phong in 13th. Despite this, Thanh Cong’s men were delighted that they’ve managed to end their 7-game winless streak at such a pivotal moment of the season and they could use this win as a platform to build some momentum towards the season’s finish line. It’s going to be a long and painful ride, but Quang Nam are at least willing to go down fighting.
Rounding up all of the action from Round 16 was SHB Da Nang winning 2-0 at the Hoa Xuan Stadium over a Song Lam Nghe An side that has won both of their previous relegation group games so far, with goals from Nguyen Cong Nhat and Ismahil Akinade confirming Da Nang’s place in the 2021 V.League 1 season.