V.League review: Return of the champions

Tuesday, 2019-04-09 18:06:47
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Hanoi FC midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai (no. 19) has rediscovered the feeling of scoring in the matchday 4 of the 2019 V.League.
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NDO – The matchday 4 of the 2019 V.League witnessed the return of reigning champions Hanoi FC to top spot of the table after losing their grip to Ho Chi Minh City for the first three rounds of the new season since their 2018 triumph.

* V.League: Hanoi FC thrash Song Lam Nghe An to claim top spot

* Hai Phong claim second place, Sanna Khanh Hoa earn first win

* V.League: Becamex Binh Duong move to fourth after home win against Viettel

Following their bitter defeat against Myanmar’s Yangon United in the AFC Cup, manager Chu Dinh Nghiem’s side must have wished to find an opponent to pour out their “anger” on, and the home-field clash with Song Lam Nghe An on Sunday was a brilliant chance for them to ease their stress.

The Hanoi players produced a lopsided game at Hang Day stadium, with Oseni, Pape Omar, Quang Hai and Hoang Vu Samson getting on the score sheet to extend the capital team’s winning run at home to nearly two years. Such a resounding win, plus the draw between Saigon FC and HCM City, officially brought the title holders back to their reign atop the table with ten points, above HCM City on goal difference.

Hanoi FC’s commanding victory became more significant to local fans as midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai rediscovered the feeling of scoring with an unstoppable volley to make it 3-0 a few minutes before the break. It was the first goal of the 21-year-old player for Hanoi FC in the 2019 V.League season, which worked to relieve the psychological pressure on him after three rounds of “silence”. With Quang Hai having found his scoring rhythm again, this can be seen as a warning from him to Hanoi FC’s upcoming V.League rivals.

Reigning runners-up Thanh Hoa FC (in yellow) are now at bottom of the table with only two points in four matches.

Reigning V.League runners-up Thanh Hoa FC still have to wait at least a few more days to taste the flavour of a victory for the first time this season after being held to a disappointing goalless tie by SHB Da Nang on their home turf. The central team have yet to rediscover the impressive form that earned them a second-place finish overall last season, as manager Nguyen Duc Thang’s side are now rooted to bottom of the table with just two points after two draws in four matches. The lack of some pillars (due to suspension and injuries) and the wastefulness of opportunities were blamed for Thanh Hoa FC’s poor display over recent times. If these two factors are not addressed soon, it will be difficult for the team to create any breakthroughs in the next matchday.

Hoang Anh Gia Lai’s title ambition continued to be dealt a big blow following their third successive defeat on Saturday. Travelling to Hai Phong FC’s Lach Tray stadium, Duong Minh Ninh’s troops created a number of clear-cut chances to score, but could not convert any of them into a goal due to lack of a rational playing style to maintain constant pressure. This is the fifth season in a row that Hoang Anh Gia Lai have rejuvenated their force, however, flourishing results have yet to come to Van Toan and his teammates. In both losses to HCM City and Saigon FC previously, the Gia Lai team created a good game, but still failed because of their wastefulness of chances and systematic mistakes – a very familiar scenario for Duong Minh Ninh’s side. If there are no improvements in their play style, Hoang Anh Gia Lai will remain an “ordinary” team in V.League, and their title goal set at the beginning of the season will still be a dream.