The visiting minnows would likely have been happy with a 1-1 draw in Hàng Đẫy Stadium at the start of the night but after 85 minutes of holding a 1-0 lead, conceding a late goal was a bitter pill to swallow.
The Hà Tĩnh players dropped to their knees in a mix of exhaustion and disappointment at the final whistle, a testament to both the monumental effort they put in against far technically superior opponents and how close they came to snatching an upset win.
The result leaves Hà Nội fourth in the V.League 1 table on 10 points, while Hà Tĩnh are second from bottom with just five points.
The home side dominated possession throughout the match but Hà Tĩnh were dangerous on the counter early on and opened the scoring just five minutes in.
Hà Tĩnh's Trần Phi Sơn beat a man on the left and sprayed a cross-field ball to Ismahil Akinade who fed the onrushing Phạm Tuấn Hải. The number 10 had a lot to do still but was able to cut back sharply and send Hà Nội's Geovane Magno flying before slotting home.
The rest of the match was largely a rearguard action for Hà Tĩnh aside from a few sorties into the Hà Nội half, allowing the home side to create several decent first-half chances, but goalkeeper Dương Quang Tuấn was in good form and made several smart saves.
Hà Tĩnh almost doubled their lead in the 31st minute in spectacular fashion when Hải tried his luck from just inside the centre circle in his own half. The effort had goalie Bùi Tấn Trường beat but sailed agonisingly over the bar.
Just before half-time, Hà Nội's Ngân Văn Đại clipped the top of the Hà Tĩnh bar with a header from a corner and it began to feel like it just wasn’t going to be the men in purple’s night.
Hà Nội extended their monopoly on possession in the second half and created several openings, the best of which being lively substitute Phạm Thành Lương's free-kick which struck the woodwork in the 69th minute.
Hà Tĩnh had few opportunities to launch counter-attacks in the second half, bar one bizarre sequence in the 84th minute when Chevaughn Walsh raced down the right with Trần Đình Trọng holding onto his shorts for dear life. Though Trọng had enough of a grip to expose the Jamaican’s underwear, somehow Walsh was the man booked.
As the 90th minute began Hà Nội's pressure finally paid off, as a shot from left-back Lê Văn Xuân was cleared off the line by Trần Văn Công, only to be swept in by the grateful Magno.
Shortly after the final whistle blew, leaving Hà Nội relieved and Hà Tĩnh dejected at a missed opportunity in what looks set to be a tooth and nail relegation battle. VNS