HÀ NỘI – Than Quảng Ninh’s players won a partial victory on Saturday off the pitch, but were unable to triumph at Hàng Đẫy Stadium on Sunday night.
The away side were comfortably beaten by a resurgent Hà Nội FC by a score of four goals to nil, but the bigger result was securing a portion of the money they’re owed by the club on Saturday.
Quảng Ninh managed to scrape together some of the VNĐ90 billion (US$3.9 million) they reportedly owe their long-suffering players after a pair of dramatic meetings in recent days, though it took threats to down tools again after refusing to train in early April to even secure that.
The Quảng Ninh Province side have been the league’s surprise package this year, somehow rising to the top of the V.League 1 table at one point last week contrary to all predictions that they would struggle due to their dire financial situation.
However the trip to Hà Nội was a bridge too far for captain Nguyễn Hải Huy et al and they were easily beaten by the home side, with the drama off the pitch perhaps sapping their energy and contributing to the four first-half goals.
As for Hà Nội, they will be cheered by a return to winning ways , with the performance of star midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải most encouraging, as the left-footed playmaker scored one goal and assisted another.
That assist came just a minute into the match as Hải whipped a free-kick in from the right-hand side which Ngân Văn Đại steered into the back of the net with his head.
The lead was doubled 16 minutes later when a ruthless Hà Nội counter-attack ended up with Hải one on one with goalkeeper Nguyễn Hoài Anh, and he duly applied a cool left-footed finish.
The game was effectively ended as a contest in the 22nd minute when Hà Nội fullback Lê Văn Xuân fired in a gorgeous long-range shot that skipped just above the ground and nestled into the bottom corner. Xuân has been superb amid Hà Nội’s struggles in recent weeks and fully deserved his goal.
With half-time approaching Quảng Ninh may have thought a respite was coming, but there was time for a fourth goal in added time via a clanger from Anh, who came out of his area to clear a long ball, but completely missed ball and man, providing Geovane Magno with the simplest of finishes.
To their credit, Quảng Ninh didn’t let their heads drop and kept coming at Hà Nội in the second period and created a couple of half-chances, but they never looked like getting back into the game.
The result puts Hà Nội back into the top six in fifth position on 13 points, while Quảng Ninh are third on 18 points. VNS