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We're the champions: Song Lam Nghe An players celebrate after winning the national football championship, V-League, on their home turf Vinh Stadium yesterday. The team drew with Ha Noi T&T 1-1 and gained 49 points to take the trophy after a 10-year wait. — VNS Photo Quang Thang
It was a 10 year wait for Nghe An since they won their first championship in 2001.
Jamaican striker Andre Diego Fagan, who is Nghe An's leading scorer with 10 goals, opened the scoring after a Duong Hong Son blunder in the first half and midfielder Le Hong Minh equalised in the second half with a long-distance shot.
Nghe An gained 49 points after 26 matches to win the championship, five points clear of runners-up Ha Noi T&T.
Nghe An's promising midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang expressed his emotion after winning his first national title.
"This is my first V-League title and it is very important to me," Hoang, who was one of the best players of yesterday's match, said.
Nghe An received a trophy and VND3 billion (US$150,000) while Ha Noi T&T pocketed VND1 billion ($50,000).
"I would like to thank all the players, especially Hoang who is my warrior, and our supporters who cheered us today and all through the long season," Nghe An coach Nguyen Huu Thang said.
Nghe An took the lead after just five minutes, thanks to the goal by Jamaican Fagan.
Ha Noi T&T's goalkeeper Son could not parry Hoang's right cross and Fagan put it into the net.
Ha Noi T&T fired more attacks with good teamwork by Argentinean Gonzalo Marronkle, Le Cong Vinh and Nguyen Van Quyet, but Nghe An's defence remained impregnable.
Meanwhile, Nghe An's midfielder Hoang had an impressive performance in the first half, providing many crucial passes to Fagan.
Fagan would have scored in the 35th minute but his shot went wide. He also missed a good opportunity three minutes after the break when he failed to beat Ha Noi's goalie in a head-to-head chance.
In the 64th minute, substitute Minh of Ha Noi sent 30,000 home fans silent as he fired a cannon shot to a high corner.
Ha Noi T&T made more efforts to net the ball in the last minutes of the match, but their strikers could not penetrate Nghe An's solid defence.
In the last minute, Brazilian Antonio Tavares of Ha Noi fired a 25m free kick that hit the bar.
In other matches played yesterday, the 2009 champions Da Nang drew with Navibank Sai Gon to rank third with 44 points.
Dong Thap beat Binh Duong 2-0, Hoa Phat Ha Noi crushed Khanh Hoa 4-1, Hoang Anh Gia Lai lost to Ninh Binh 3-2.
Despite a 2-1 win over Thanh Hoa, V-League two-time champions Dong Tam Long were relegated as they ranked second-to-last in a poor season performance.
Ha Noi ACB also were relegated from V-League after a 2-2 draw with Hai Phong yesterday. — VNS