Hanoi FC have won this season’s V.League 1 after a straightforward 2-0 win over relegation battlers Hong Linh Ha Tinh at the Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi on Sunday. The three points ensured that the Capital Team would win their sixth V.League 1 title – equaling the record set by city rivals Viettel FC.
Having won the V.League 1 title in 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2019, Hanoi went into Sunday’s game knowing that a draw against a Ha Tinh side staving off the threats of relegation would be enough for them to seal that record-equaling sixth title. The Capital Team were two points above 2nd placed Hai Phong FC, who host Song Lam Nghe An at the Lach Tray Stadium, as well as six points above 3rd placed Topenland Binh Dinh, who visit local rivals SHB Da Nang at the Hoa Xuan Stadium.
Ha Tinh, on the other hand, were part of a 3-team relegation scrap at the opposite end of the V.League 1 table. With a comfortable 3-0 win over Da Nang assuring top flight safety for Ho Chi Minh City FC last Tuesday, the fight to avoid the dreaded drop into the V.League 2 comes down to a tussle between 11th placed Nam Dinh FC, 12th placed Ha Tinh, and last-placed Sai Gon FC – and both Nam Dinh and Sai Gon were playing against each other at the former’s Thien Truong Stadium.
Determined to seal the title in front of their Hang Day faithful, Hanoi pressed Ha Tinh straight from the get-go, however, the Saola displayed enough determination and grit to keep up with their star-studded foes.
Ha Tinh’s resistance was broken in the 27th minute, however, as some excellent teamwork between Nghiem Xuan Tu and Tonci Mujan led to Ha Tinh goalie Duong Quang Tuan flapping his clearance, allowing Lucao do Break to head home the Capital Team’s opener.
Hanoi immediately shut up shop after drawing first blood, with the Capital Team soaking up pressure after pressure from a frantic Ha Tinh desperate to retain their top flight status. The Saola were then put out of their misery in the 65th minute after Tran Van Kien scored a screamer past Quang Tuan that sealed all three points, and with it, Hanoi’s record-equaling sixth V.League 1 title.
Hanoi’s victory meant that Hai Phong’s 4-1 thrashing of SLNA were rendered moot, with the Red Tide having to contend with this season’s silver medal. Despite missing out on the title, Hai Phong’s 2nd placed finish was their highest since the 2016 season, when the Red Tide also finished 2nd behind local rivals Hanoi.
Binh Dinh sealed bronze with a 1-0 win away at Da Nang, while at the other end of the table Nam Dinh assured their safety with a 3-0 thrashing of Sai Gon. This meant that both Ha Tinh and Sai Gon must win their final games of the season on November 19th – against Dong A Thanh Hoa and Becamex Binh Duong respectively and hope for their rivals to slip up in order to ensure that they would stay in the V.League 1 for the upcoming season.
The last-placed team in this year’s V.League 1 will be relegated to the V.League 2, being replaced by this season’s second-tier champions Cong An Nhan Dan and runners-up Khanh Hoa FC. As league champions, Hanoi are assured of a spot in the 2023/24 AFC Champions League group stage, while Hai Phong have qualified as a standby team for the 2023/24 AFC Cup group stage. Should Hanoi win this season’s Vietnamese National Cup, the Red Tide will be assured of a continental debut next season.