V-League champs Da Nang back on top

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V-League champions Da Nang have climbed to the top of the pile again after a hard-fought 4-3 away victory over Hoa Phat Hanoi at Hang Day Stadium in the league's 10th round on Sunday.

This is the first time the reigning champs are back on top since they slipped from first place in a 0-1 loss to their closes rivals Hanoi T&T in the fifth round in mid March.

Their recent ascent was partially due to the fact that Hanoi T&T suffered a 1-2 away defeat to Thanh Hoa on Sunday.

Visitors Da Nang and hosts Hoa Phat Hanoi chose to play attack football despite heavy rain.

Da Nang took the lead after only three minutes when their best Argentine striker Gaston Merlo put home the opener.

The home team proved to be tough rivals and in fact played much better through much of the first half. They scored three consecutive goals around the interval to lead 3-1.

But it seemed to go to their heads and the home side lost their concentration as the visitors continued to put relentless pressure on the defense.

Merlo scored his second goal to pull one back for the champions before substitutes Ha Minh Tuan and Nicolas Hernandez netted two more goals in the final minutes to give Da Nang an exciting comeback win.

After the win, the club owner Do Quang Hien rewarded each player with VND30 million while Merlo received VND50 million (US$2,650).

The defeat on home soil pulled Hoa Phat Hanoi two places down to 11th with 11 points.

After beating Hanoi T&T 2-1, pulling the rivals to second place, Thanh Hoa climbed one place to ninth with 14 points.

Navibank Saigon continued to be nailed to the bottom with six points after losing 0-1 to Hai Phong Cement. It looked like Navibank Saigon players only used only their muscles, rather than their heads.

If referee Hoang Anh Tuan had been more serious, the Ho Chi Minh City side would have received at least two red cards and 10 yellow cards, instead of only one red and five yellow cards.

Despite the home win, Hai Phong slid one place to eighth because they have the same points as Nghe An and Dong Thap but are inferior on goal difference.

In other action, the league's 2005-06 champions Dong Tam Long An jumped two spots to 10th with 11 points after a 3-1 home win over Dong Thap, who fell two places to seventh with 14 points.

The 2007-08 champs Binh Duong hammered Khanh Hoa 4-0 and climbed one spot to push their rivals out of third. Khan Hoa fell two places to fifth.

Ninh Binh earned a 1-0 away win over the 2003-04 champions Hoang Anh Gia Lai. Ninh Binh climbed to fourth from sixth spot while the losers slid two places to 12th, third to last.

With a 2-0 home victory over Nam Dinh, Nghe An moved up two places to sixth while Nam Dinh remained second to last, only one point clear of Navibank Saigon at the bottom.

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