Second-placed Da Nang turned up the heat in the V-League with a sharp 3-1 home win over league leaders Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) at Chi Lang Stadium in round 20 on Sunday.
The league 2001 champions SLNA, with 39, points are now only four points clear of the 2009 champions Da Nang. There are six more rounds to go in the season.
The hosts Da Nang led by two goals to nil after the first half, thanks to an early goal by mid-fielder Minh Phuong and another net by French player Kalifa Dembele near the end of the half.
Argentine striker Merlo S. Gaston made it 3-0 for the hosts midway through the second half before Nguyen Hong Viet scored a consolation goal for visitors SLNA minutes before the end of the match.
In other action, hosts Thanh Hoa thrashed the 2007-08 champs Binh Duong 4-1 at Thanh Hoa Stadium, while the 2003-04 champs Hoang Anh Gia Lai beat visitors Hai Phong 4-2 at Pleiku Stadium in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.
Dong Thap hammered visitors Hanoi ACB 3-0 at Cao Lanh Stadium with a double by Nigerian striker Samson Kayode, and the other goal by striker Van Nghia.
Hoa Phat Hanoi earned a lucky home win over visitors Ninh Binh at Hanoi's Hang Day Stadium. Nigerian striker Olushola Olumuylwa Aganun scored the opener after five minutes.
The capital side led all the way through the 90 minute mark but Ninh Binh's Adevade equalized the scored in the 91st before Kisekka Henry scored the winning goal for the hosts in the third minute of the stoppage time.
Khanh Hoa are still down on their luck and were held 1-1 at Nha Trang Stadium by visitors Navibank Saigon from Ho Chi Minh City. Khanh Hoa are now in the 13th position out of 14 teams in the league. If things don't improve, they will be relegated to the second-tier First Division.
In an early match on Saturday, the league's 2005-06 champs Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) suffered a 0-2 home defeat to defending champs Hanoi T&T at Long An Stadium.
The loss pushed Mekong Delta side to the bottom of the barrel with 18 points while Hanoi T&T's 34 points put them in third place, five points adrift of league leaders Nghe An. The defending champs still have one more match in hand.