Two goals in the second half ensured a place for Khatoco Khanh Hoa in next season’s premier league and forced the visiting Ha Noi ACB to a play-off to avoid relegation.
|Khatoco Khanh Hoa's Jonathan Quartey (white) fights for the ball with Ha Noi ACB's Nguyen Manh Dung (left) and Danh Minh|
Playing at Nha Trang, Benitez Ramon fired home the ball for the visitors’ opening goal almost on the stroke of half time but Jonathan Quartey leveled the score from a spot penalty just moments later.
Captain Nguyen Thien Hao gave Khatoco Khanh Hoa the advantage with a clinical finish after the break but the northerners hit back with a powerful header from Thanh Thuong.
Quang Hai secured the valuable points for the home team eight minutes from full time by sidestepping three defenders and tapping the ball into the net.
The result leaves Ha Noi ACB facing a nervous end to the season, while Khatoco Khanh Hoa are homed and hosed for next year.
It could have been an even worse start for the visitors from Ha Noi had national winger Le Tan Tai not fired a close-range shot that beat goalkeeper Viet Cuong but shaved the pole barely two minutes into the match.
Ha Noi ACB gradually regained their composure, with Enock Bentil looking lively in the frontline.
The Ghanaian striker came close in the 20th minute when his header bounced off the ground over goalkeeper Van Thach, only for Huynh Ngoc Dieu to clear the ball with a desperate volley.
Ramon stunned the southerners just before half time when he chipped a spinning shot from 25 meters out into the far right corner of the net.
But the visitors’ elation was doused two minutes later when Quartey restored parity with a penalty kick after being pushed to the ground by defender Hassan Sesay.
Quang Hai came off the bench for Khatoco Khanh Hoa after the interval as the home team added more firepower in the front.
The short striker was the architect of the host side’s second goal when he smartly squeezed the ball past two Ha Noi ACB center defenders to onrushing skipper Thien Hao, who laced home from close range.
Khatoco Khanh Hoa paid for their scrappy defense in the 71st minute when unmarked Thanh Thuong comfortably leveled with a header from Hai Nam’s right corner kick.
But the home fans erupted in full cry in the 82nd minute when lively Quang Hai showed lightning speed to escape two Ha Noi ACB defenders before hooking the ball home with his right foot from inside the penalty area.
Mbabazi could have put the visitors level two minutes later but his powerful header from eight meters out struck the cross bar and bounced back out.
The V-League Petro Viet Nam Gas 2007 Table
|1||Becamex Binh Duong||24||14||7||3||49|
|2||Dong Tam Long An||24||11||7||6||40|
|5||Hoang Anh Gia Lai||24||10||5||9||35|
|6||Pisico Binh Dinh||24||9||6||9||33|
|7||Southern Steel - Saigon Port||24||8||8||8||32|
|8||Halida Thanh Hoa||24||8||8||8||32|
|9||Song Lam Nghe An||24||7||10||7||31|
|10||Khatoco Khanh Hoa||24||9||4||11||31|
|11||Hoa Phat Ha Noi||24||7||8||9||29|
|12||Ha Noi ACB||24||7||7||10||28|