Three goals scored in the first half helped Saigon FC beat newly promoted Viettel 3-0 on May 18 to climb into third place in the table, level with fourth-placed Song Lam Nghe An on 17 points but with a better goal difference.
Saigon FC players celebrate a goal during their match with Viettel.
The hosts needed only eight minutes to open the scoring, as captain Ngoc Duy gave keeper Quan The Tai no chance with a low left-footed curler into the bottom right corner.
The lack of centre back Bui Tien Dung and foreigner Gustavo due to injuries weakened Viettel’s defence, forcing them to concede a second goal within just the next 14 minutes.
Quoc Phuong played one-two with a teammate and dribbled the ball into the box before producing a similar strike to their opener to double Saigon FC’s advantage.
Pedro Paulo extinguished Viettel’s hopes for a comeback by converting a 41st-minute penalty, earned following Que Ngoc Hai’s handball in the box, into a third for the hosts.
The V.League newbies also managed to create some clear-cut opportunities throughout the match, but they failed to capitalise on any of them to find the back of the net.
The third consecutive straight defeat pushed Lee Heung-sil’s troops to 11th position with 10 points, three clear of the relegation zone.
In the other matches the same day, Song Lam Nghe An were held to an unexpected goalless draw by bottom-placed Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN. The heart-breaking result forced Nguyen Duc Thang’s side to concede third place to Saigon FC.
Hai Phong drew 2-2 with Thanh Hoa FC to move up to fifth with 15 points.