Rangers progressed to the next round of the Senior Shield following a penalty shootout win over a stubborn Dreams side who pushed their opponents all the way over 120 minutes of football at the Hammer Hill Sports Ground.
Seeking to improve on their 0-3 reverse to Tai Po last weekend, Rangers started brightest with Argentinian forward Christian Castano passing up a glorious chance in the 7th minute, as he drew a good save from opposing keeper To Chun-kiu, only to then fire the rebound into the side netting when faced with a near empty goal.
Dominating the early proceedings Rangers deservedly took the lead on 22 minutes, as a cross from the left was fumbled by the Dreams keeper under pressure from Tommy Chuck Yiu-kwok, who tucked away the rebound for the 1-0 lead. Rangers continued to press forward without creating any clear-cut chances and gradually Dreams worked their way back into the game as the half wore on. A chance finally came their way with five minutes left to go, but Nacho Martinez’ shot was well blocked from 12 yards out.
The second half took a while to get going, although it was Dreams who were seeing more of the ball and on 64 minutes a cross was flashed across goal by Joaquin Garcia only for nobody to get the vital touch that would have brought an equaliser.
The introduction from the bench of Arkaitz Ruiz was to have a big impact on the last 20 minutes for Dreams as the Spaniard began to cause problems down the Rangers left and it was down this side that the team in white found a deserved leveller. The Spanish winger found space on the right and sent a ball across the face of goal which resulted in an almighty scramble before Garcia turned it home from three yards after multiple players had turns at trying to force the ball past the defenders and goalkeeper on the line.
Garcia then had a chance of his own two minutes later but saw his drilled effort well saved by Rangers keeper Wong Tse-yeung for the last chance of the 90 minutes.
In extra time Rangers looked the more likely to grab a winner and on 102 minutes Chuck contrived to miss a penalty with To making a good save diving high to his right to keep the scores level. In the last minute of extra time Rangers carved out two great chances to finish off Dreams. Castano stroke the ball wide following a poor clearance from Pablo Gallardo when he really should have scored followed by Lau Chi-lok side footing wide from six yards after good work down the right from Chuck in the last action of the 120 minutes.
So it went to penalties and the tie was settled in the first round as the unfortunate Gallardo saw his spot kick clip the bar on its way over the goal to which both sides then scored their next four apiece, leaving Lai Lok-yin the chance to win the match for Rangers and he did by sticking the ball into the top corner leaving the Dreams keeper no chance.
Rangers go through to the next round of the Senior Shield and bounce back positively from last weeks poor showing against Tai Po, whilst Dreams should take heart from a good second half performance going into next week’s game against Southern.
Photos by Christie Leung