There were very few changes in the V-League table after bottom-placed Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) beat Khanh Hoa and toppers Nghe An lost to Hai Phong in 16th round matches played Sunday.
The (SCORE) loss snapped Nghe An 10-game winning streak after their earlier loss to Dong Thap in round five early March.
Nghe An were not at their best while Hai Phong showed strong defense and deployed fast attacks, putting constant pressure on Nghe An's defenders.
The hosts would have won by a bigger margin if Thanh Sang, Duc Thang and Brazilian player Thiago Rocha had not wasted clear chances.
After the away loss at Lach Tray Stadium, Nghe An still remain on top with 35 points, but only four points clear of second-placed Da Nang, who came from behind to take a 2-1 home win over Dong Thap at Chi Lang Stadium.
In other action, V-league 2005-06 champs DTLA also came from a goal down to earn a 2-1 home win at Long An Stadium over visitors Khanh Hoa.
With 14 points, DTLA have narrowed the gap separating them from other teams and raised hopes of avoiding relegation to the second-tier First Division, because the teams right above them - Hanoi ACB, Ninh Binh, Khanh Hoa and Hoa Phat Hanoi, all suffered losses on Sunday.
Ninh Binh caved in 0-3 to hosts Navibank Saigon at the Thong Nhat Stadium while Hanoi ACB lost 1-3 to neighbors Hanoi T&T at the Hang Day Stadium. Hoa Phat Hanoi lost by the same 1-3 margin to Thanh Hoa at Thanh Hoa Stadium.
Meanwhile, the 2007-08 champs Binh Duong were held 2-2 at home by 2003-04 champs Hoang Anh Gia Lai in a match played in pouring rain.
The visitors took the lead after Vu Anh Tuan scored the opener midway through the first half before Vu Phong scored an equalizer for the hosts a couple of minutes later.
South African striker Kubheka Philani put the hosts in front 15 minutes after the break, but Ghanaian defender Dzigba Benjamin Mawusi struck to make it 2-2 10 minutes from time.