The curtains have almost come down on the V-League this season after Hanoi T&T's 2-1 home win against Thanh Hoa at Hang Day Stadium on Wednesday.
Hanoi T&T were offered a penalty kick after seven minutes but goalkeeper Hong Son only managed to hit the goal post.
Then, the visitors Thanh Hoa took the lead. Phuoc Tu scored off a penalty kick in the final minute of the first half after Bao Khanh was taken down in Hanoi T&T's penalty area.
Carlos Soares came off the bench with a vengeance and equalized the score for the hosts after the break.
The turning point of the match came midway through the second half when Nguyen Anh Tuan of Thanh Hoa was sent off after his second yellow card.
The visitors kept up with their hosts until the fifth minute of stoppage time when Hanoi T&T's Argentine striker Gonzalo Marronkle's pulled off a wicked header into the visitor goal.
With 44 points, the capital team now enjoys a five-point lead over Hai Phong Cement, who fought hard to take a 1-0 victory over second to last Navibank Saigon.
Hanoi T&T have played well this season. They have exhibited the most consistent performance in the fourteen-team league and enjoyed a friction-free rise to the top title.
They have exhibited grace under fire and come from behind more than once to trounce their rivals. But they've been very lucky, too. Their top contenders have largely coasted through the season.
In the past five rounds, Hanoi T&T took three wins, one draw and one loss while Dong Thap took one win and four losses. Binh Duong, the 2007-08 champs and 2009 runners-up, took one win, one draw and three losses.
Hanoi T&T's eight point lead over Binh Duong ultimately caused coach Duong Ngoc Hung to resign following the 1-5 away trouncing by Khanh Hoa at the Nha Trang Stadium on Wednesday.
Dong Thap has fallen to fifth with 35 points after a 0-6 home defeat at Cao Lanh Stadium to the 2005-06 champions Dong Tam Long An.
Meanwhile, Da Nang's former champs continue their downhill slide, falling two more places to ninth following a one-all home draw against Hoa Phat Hanoi.
In the remaining three rounds the third to last Thanh Hoa (28 points) and Navibank Saigon (19 points) are expected to be relegated to the second-tier First Division.
State-run Dong Thap and Thanh Hoa will drop into the First Division if the two clubs do not shift away from their enterprise-owned status by August 31 as required by league regulations.