V-League defending champs held to draw in ill-tempered encounter

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V-League champs Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) had a disappointing away draw at Pleiku Stadium against Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) in a 20th round match on Sunday.

The reigning champs led by two to nil early in the second half but slacked off later on, allowing the 2003-04 champs HAGL to fight fiercely and make it 2-2 before the game ended.

However, the most notable part of the match was the hostile behavior of the visitors towards the hosts and referee towards the end of the match, creating unnecessary tension.

First, SLNA's central fullback Tran Son Ha deliberately tackled Doan Marcelo and was sent off with a red card. Then, SLNA coach Nguyen Huu Thang strongly reacted by kicking a water bottle into the stands.

Later, when the hosts were awarded a corner kick, coach Thang and at least three SLNA players rushed to the referee to protest.

Fortunately other SLNA players and spectators in the stands kept calm till the game ended.

It was SLNA's 13th draw in 20 matches and the team had to settle for fourth position 28 points, 11 points adrift of leaders Hanoi T&T, who strengthened their position with a 2-0 home win over 2009 champs Da Nang at the Hang Day Stadium on Saturday.

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