Hai Phong lost 1-3 to Quang Ninh Sunday and dropped to 2nd place for the first time after 18 rounds as Da Nang took over the lead in Vietnam’s topflight V-League.
It ended an impressive run by the team from the northern port city that had gone eight matches undefeated and notched an early first leg championship title in June.
Host Quang Ninh, who were toying with the idea of delaying the match due to fears of flooding by Typhoon Mirinae, scored a precious win to narrow the gap with the leaders by three points.
In the 27th minute Nghiem Xuan Tu scored the first goal for Quang Ninh before Russian striker Sergei Dyachenko make it 2-0 early in the second half.
Hai Phong played with 10 men from the 68th minute after Jamaican striker Errol Stevens got a second yellow card.
Two more goals were scored in the second time, one by Hai Phong’s Le Van Thang and the other by Quang Ninh’s Bui Van Hieu.
After the match Hai Phong fans gathered outside the stadium and set off fireworks to condemn referee Vo Minh Tri’s decision to send Stevens off.
The 18th round was also marked by referee Phung Dinh Dung’s wrong decision in the match between Khanh Hoa and Quang Nam.
The FIFA-approved referee later admitted he was wrong to disallow a goal by Khanh Hoa’s Nigerian striker Iheroume Uche in the dying minutes.
Dung said he made the decision since Khanh Hoa did not play fair. Two Quang Nam players were injured and a teammate kicked the ball out of play. But, as is common, Khanh Hoa did not throw in the ball to Quang Nam and began an attack instead.
Nguyen Van Mui, head of the national soccer referees board, said Dung should have allowed the goal. The board is considering measures against him, he added.