Hosts Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and Binh Dinh took wins in the opener of the National U.21 football final round contest in Pleiku on Thursday.
HAGL beat Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) 1-0 while Binh Dinh came back from behind to defeat Nam Dinh 2-1 to share the top rank with HAGL.
With the advantage of home soil and fans, HAGL players started the game in high spirits and their superiority resulted in a goal near end of the first half.
DTLA stepped up its game in an effort to equalize the score but all they could do was avoid conceding more goals.
In the other game, Nam Dinh players played hard from the very beginning and took better control of the midfield.
Nam Dinh took the lead midway through the first half after Huu Khoi took a neat pass from Nhat Nam and scored the opener in a fast counterattack.
After half time, Binh Dinh coach Nguyen Ngoc Thien made some changes to improve defense and attack; and Binh Dinh got stronger.
Their relentless attacks made it very difficult for Nam Dinh's defenders and Quang The left the field with a red card after violently tackling a Binh Dinh player.
The 10-man Nam Dinh squad looked much weaker after the incident and Binh Dinh scored two goals during the final minutes of the game.