Few surprises as V-League 2011 kicks off

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There were a few close-fought encounters, but four of seven matches repeated last year's results as first round of V-League's latest season got underway on January 22.

Defending champions Hanoi T&T beat Hoa Phat Hanoi 2-1 at the Hang Day Stadium, the same result as last year.

The match was not very exciting in the cold weather because both sides were overly cautious. The champions took the lead after Ngoc Duy fired a powerful shot from just outside the penalty area a couple of minutes before halftime.

After conceding the goal, Hoa Phat Hanoi tried much harder in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but it took until six minute from full time to earn the reward, Nigerian striker Timothy Anjembe netting the equalizer.

In the dying moments of the match, Argentine striker Gonzalo Marronkle made sure the champions squeaked through.

Da Nang, the 2009 V-League champs, also delivered an almost predictable result on home soil with a 2-1 victory over 2003-04 title holders Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) at the Chi Lang Stadium. This one was gained in controversial circumstances though.

The home side took the lead mid-way through the second half but the visitors equalized a few minutes later. However, in the "¦ minute, the referee ruled HAGL's Van Pho had tackled a Da Nang striker and awarded a penalty.

HAGL players were not pleased with the decision and left the field for a few minutes. When they returned, Gaston Merlo took the penalty and made it 2-1 for the home side.

Thai-Vietnamese player Doan Van Sakda later failed to keep calm and was sent off with a red card after tackling a Da Nang player.

On home ground at Lach Tray Stadium, Hai Phong Cement also repeated last year's 1-0 win over Khanh Hoa but the fight was not as fierce as it was in 2010.

Meanwhile, in the fourth match that produced the same result as last year, 2005-06 champions Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) managed a 2-2 draw at Long An Stadium in the Mekong Delta against Nghe An. The visitors led 2-0 before DTLA clawed back to secure a tie.

While Thanh Hoa beat visitors Hanoi ACB 3-0, two other teams disappointed at home.

The 2007-08 champions, Becamex Binh Duong, drew 1-1 with Vissai Ninh Binh, whom they had beaten 4-0 in the 2010 season; while Ho Chi Minh City representative Navibank Saigon were held to a 0-0 tie by a second-string squad from Dong Thap in the Mekong Delta.

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