Hoang Anh Gia Lai came off the bottom following a 3-2 win over Long An in a V-League match Sunday, but lost their Brazilian striker Osmar Moreira, who broke a leg in a goal attempt.
Both teams have eight points after nine rounds and need a win in the next round to escape the relegation zone.
Unlike in previous matches, Hoang Anh Gia Lai coach Nguyen Quoc Tuan got his players to attack from kick-off at home at the Pleiku Stadium.
He was successful with the strategy as Van Thanh, Moreira and Minh Vuong scored in the 14th, 16th and 18th minutes.
In the 27th minute Osmar broke his right leg after being tackled by Tan Tai.
Nguyen Tan Anh, a Hoang Anh Gia Lai official, said after the match that Tai’s foul was not deliberate.
“It was an accident. But I think the referee should have given a penalty.”
Moreira had surgery the same day and doctors said it would take two or three months to decide when the Brazilian would start playing again.
Due to the injury and the big lead, the highlanders slowed down, giving Long An a chance to score just before the break through Quang Thanh and then in the 78th minute through Tai Loc.
At the other end of the points table, Hai Phong defeated Khanh Hoa 2-0 at home to maintain its lead with 25 points. They were followed by Becamex Binh Duong with 18 points.
Saigon, formerly Hanoi, who were renamed after moving from the capital to Ho Chi Minh City, impressed local fans after beating Thanh Hoa 3-1 in their third win in a row.