Round 9 of the 2021 V.League 1 was played out on Sunday and Monday, with Hanoi FC hammering cash-strapped Than Quang Ninh 4-0 at the Hang Day Stadium to kickstart the Hoang Van Phuc era, Sai Gon ending their 5-game losing streak with a 1-0 home win over Hong Linh Ha Tinh, and league leaders Hoang Anh Gia Lai playing out an absolute thriller of a match with Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh at the Pleiku Stadium which saw the hosts winning 4-3 thanks to a last-gasp penalty from Nguyen Cong Phuong.
The decision made by the Quang Ninh People’s Committee to pay four months worth of wages and bonuses owed to the Quang Ninh players meant that the players’ plan of boycotting Round 9 was thwarted and the Quang Ninh contingent was able to travel to Hanoi without a hitch. However at the Hang Day the away side were given a thorough beating by the hosts on Sunday, who have Nguyen Quang Hai back in the starting lineup after a period in the sidelines due to injury. Ngan Van Dai gave Hanoi the lead in the 2nd minute thanks to a cross from Quang Hai before the man himself doubled Hanoi’s advantage in the 18th minute.
Le Van Xuan ended any hopes of a Quang Ninh comeback in the 24th minute, before Geovane’s strike in stoppage time effectively killed off the contest before the second half was even played. The huge 4-0 win helped Hanoi up to 5th in the V.League 1 table, while Quang Ninh’s 4-match winning run was ended emphatically.
Meanwhile at the Thong Nhat Stadium, a single Do Merlo goal in 58th minute ensured a slender 1-0 win for Sai Gon over fellow strugglers Ha Tinh, a result that prompted Ha Tinh head coach Pham Minh Duc to file in his resignation letter. Sai Gon’s three points helped them off last place and into 13th, however new head coach Phung Thanh Phuong has a lot of homework to do as his Sai Gon side had only scored three goals this season, all coming from 1-0 wins and all being scored by V.League 1 scoring legend Merlo.
Sunday’s other match saw an early cannonball from Nguyen Hoang Duc ensuring a 1-0 win for defending champions Viettel FC away at Topenland Binh Dinh.
League leaders HAGL host Nam Dinh on Monday knowing that a win would reinforce their position on top of the V.League 1 table. At first Kiatisuk Senamuang’s Mountain Men raced to a 3-0 lead after just 28 minutes, with Cong Phuong kicking things off in the 2nd minute before Tran Minh Vuong’s volley made it 2-0 in the 6th minute. Nam Dinh’s Wesley Rodrigues fouled HAGL’s Washington Brandao within the box in the 28th minute, prompting the referee to award the hosts a penalty. Nguyen Van Toan made no mistake from the spot and it seems that the Knights of Thanh Nam were condemned to another defeat.
However, Nam Dinh managed to pull one back in the 41st minute through Hoang Xuan Tan, before the Knights of Thanh Nam retaliated in full force during the second half. Nam Dinh were awarded with a penalty of their own in the 64th minute after Nguyen Phong Hong Duy pushed Pham Minh Nghia inside HAGL’s penalty area. Rodrigo Dias took the ensuing spot kick with aplomb, reducing the deficit even further for Nam Dinh.
Not even Lam Anh Quang’s 90th minute red card could deter Nam Dinh as the Knights of Thanh Nam scored their equalizer in the third minute of injury time through Doan Thanh Truong. However, as the away side were set to leave the Pleiku Stadium with a solitary point, Wesley once again conceded a penalty for Nam Dinh after he had handled a Vu Van Thanh cross, which Cong Phuong took brilliantly to ensure a 4-3 win for HAGL.
Controversy broke out at the Thanh Hoa Stadium after Trinh Van Loi’s last-gasp equalizer denied a win for Ho Chi Minh City FC, with the Red Battleship being forced to play out a 1-1 draw with hosts Dong A Thanh Hoa. Ho Chi Minh City thought that they had won the game after Lee Nguyen had given them an 85th minute lead, however the referee awarded Thanh Hoa an indirect free-kick at the end of the 5 minute-long injury time, which led to Van Loi heading home the equalizer.
Feeling that the referee had prolonged injury time to give Thanh Hoa the chance to salvage a point, Ho Chi Minh City’s coaching staff and players immediately swarmed the referee and his assistants to protest the decision to give Thanh Hoa the indirect free-kick that led to their equalizer. The ensuing fracas saw Ho Chi Minh City analyst Luis Viegas being sent off by the referee for constant over-remonstration, assistant referee Nguyen Le Nguyen Thanh accusing Ho Chi Minh City goalkeeper Nguyen Thanh Thang of head-butting him to the point that one of his teeth fell out, and the entire refereeing team being escorted out of the Thanh Hoa Stadium by local police.
Monday’s other matches saw Song Lam Nghe An beating 10-man Becamex Binh Duong 2-0 at the Vinh Stadium and both Hai Phong FC and SHB Da Nang playing out a goalless draw at the Lach Tray Stadium.