Hoang Anh Gia Lai defend V.League status after nail-biting win against HCM City

Sunday, 2019-10-20 10:27:48
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Nguyen Phong Hong Duy (no. 7) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal for Hoang Anh Gia Lai during their match against HCM City on Saturday. (Photo: VPF)
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NDO – Hoang Anh Gia Lai have officially survived the V.League relegation race after a thrilling 2-1 victory over reigning runners-up Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday (Oct. 19) thanks to two penalty converters from Nguyen Phong Hong Duy (60’) and Vu Van Thanh (85’).

Lee Tae-hoon’s side travelled to Thong Nhat Stadium knowing that a win would allow them to preserve their V.League status regardless of the results of other Matchday 25 games or the last-matchday fixtures on Oct. 23.

The guests demonstrated their three-point ambition by proactively deploying attacks right from the start. Minh Vuong threatened the HCM City goal twice in the opening 20 minutes with a freekick that hit the woodwork and a close-range header over the crossbar.

HAGL’s pressure forced the hosts to mainly play on the defence in the first half and only count on Tran Phi Son’s speed to produce some counterattacks, which were not effective.

Both sides sped up their tempos after the break seeking to open the scoring. It was not until the hour mark that HAGL concretised their opportunities, with Hong Duy successfully converting the resulting penalty after teammate Van Thanh was brought down by Huu Tuan inside the box.

The guests’ advantage, however, was short-lived, because only 14 minutes later, Hong Duy fouled Phi Son in the box to gift Chung Hae-seong’s side a penalty, which was converted into an equaliser for the home team by the no. 10 forward himself.

HAGL forward Nguyen Van Toan (in white) in action during the match. (Photo: VPF)

The remainder of the game saw HAGL increase pressure in seeking a second goal. Their efforts paid off in the 85th minute when Van Thanh beat keeper Thanh Diep from the spot to restore the guests’ lead following Huu Tuan’s infringement on Van Toan in the box.

With time running out, Van Toan had two consecutive chances to widen the gap for HAGL but he could not defeat the HCM City goalie with decisive shots, causing the 2-1 score to remain unchanged until the final whistle.

The narrow victory moved HAGL up to 10th place with 32 points, seven clear of the relegation zone. This also means Lee Tae-hoon’s side have officially retained their V.League status as the 2019 season has just one more matchday to go.

Nam Dinh FC joined HAGL to escape relegation after outplaying Hai Phong FC by the same score at home. Meanwhile, newly promoted Viettel also safeguarded their V.League place following their 3-1 win over Thanh Hoa FC.

The poor result of Thanh Hoa allowed third-from-bottom Hai Phong to officially rescue their V.League campaign with one game in hand, despite their unexpected loss against Nam Dinh.

The relegation race is now only between second-from-bottom Thanh Hoa and bottom-placed Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN, who are now level on 25 points. The results of the last-matchday fixtures on Oct. 24 will decide the holders of the relegation playoff and direct relegation tickets.

V.League 2019 Table - Matchday 25