League

Tai Po rise to 2nd as R&F and Southern share points

Photo: HKFA.com

An extra time equaliser from Lau Hok-ming helped Southern to draw with league leaders R&F, while Kitchee and Taipo earned wins to create an ever closer title race between the top four, with only five rounds remaining.

The 13th round of the Hong Kong Premier League kicked off with the table-top clash between Southern and R&F. The Guangzhou side started off lively when Tiago de Leonco won a freekick at the edge of the box, and his subsequent curling attempt went in off the post to bring R&F ahead after just five minutes. Giovane da Silva doubled R&F’s lead three minutes later, as he tapped in Itaparica’s cross. In the 30th minute, Nikola Komazec scored with a left-footed volley, follwing a cross from Sham Kwok-fai, to crawl one back for the home team. However, Southern were forced to make all their substitutions due to injuries just before the half-time whistle. In the 54th minute, Lau Hok-ming’s cross from the right was handled by Leung Nok-hang at the edge of the box, and after discussions between all four officials, a penalty was given to Southern. Nikola Komazec made no mistake from the spot to net his second of the day to equalise for the Aberdeeners. In the 64th minute, Michael Luk’s long range attempt almost caught Zhou Yuchen, but it was R&F who restored the lead a few moments later through Robert Affonso’s half volley, as Tiago de Leonco’s freekick was deflected off the wall straight to him. Nonetheless, Lau Hok-ming sent the home crowds wild as he headed home from a corner to equalise for Southern in the 2nd minute of added time to ensure both teams went home with a point.

Heavy monsoon rain arrived at Tsing Yi just a few minutes after the kick off, therefore it took Dreams and Kitchee some time adjust to the difficult pitch conditions. However, 28 minutes into the game, Kitchee broke the deadlock through a short corner to Dani Cancela, whose pinpoint pass was met by Krisztian Vadocz’s head at the far post to make it 1-0. Just six minutes later, Lucas sent a pass to Fernando inside the box, who put the ball past the keeper. Dreams came close towards the end of the first half with attempts from Diego Higino and Nacho Martinez, but were denied by Kitchee’s defense. The reigning champions continued to press on in the second half, and found their third goal when Fernando’s cross from the left was headed in by Lucas. With seven minutes remaining, Tong Kin-man recovered a lost ball inside the Dreams box and found Yuto Nakamura, who smashed it into the top of the goal. Three minutes later, Josip Tadic fired in Kitchee’s fifth from twelve yards out. Krisztian Vadocz finished the scoring with a curler from just outside the box in the 89th minute for Kitchee’s sixth and final goal of the night. 

Riding on the last minute victory over Kitchee in the Sapling Cup last weekend, Lee man started off strongly against Tai Po in Tseung Kwan O, but their chances were well taken care of by the defense. Instead it was the visitors taking the lead in the 33rd minute when Wong Wai’s 35 yards free-kick on the right flank was met by Philip Chan’s head at the far post. Just before half time, Baek Ji-hoon received two bookings within five minutes, bringing Lee Man down to 10 men for the rest of the game. Michel Lugo then had the chance to double the score, but his attempt went just wide. Returning from the break with a one-man advantage, Tai Po scored another goal as Igor Satori slashed a shot from the left to the bottom corner of the net past the keeper in the 66th minute. Seeing Philip Chan and Sandro’s further attempts going just off target, the final score remained 2-0 for the Greens, which put them in second place of the Hong Kong Premier League, leapfrogging league rivals Southern. 

The final match of the round between Yuen Long and Hoi King was also affected by a water-logged pitch. Nonetheless, the game was mostly dominated by  the Tangerines, as Law Chun-ting, Chan Kwong-ho and Fabio Lopes forced saves from Paulo Cesar. In the 32nd minute, Jean Moser found the back of the net as Law’s looping cross into the box was not cleared on time. Three minutes into the second half, Hoi King leveled the score, when Kim Min-ki worked down the sidelines on the left and found Sun Ming-him, who quickly slotted the ball home. In the 56th minute, it was Kim again down the right, though this time putting in a cross, which Robert just narrowly missed at the far post. Nine minutes later, Yuen Long’s Cleiton came close with a shot that was deflected off Chan Man-chun, going just wide of the goal. In the 70th minute, Robert’s free-kick near the corner flag found Chris Annan at the far post, whose shot was cleared off the line by Chan Pak-hang. Nonetheless, the Tangerines pressed for the winner and in the 85th minute, substitute Chuck Yiu-kwok dribbled down the left before sending a cross that found Jean Moser, whose shot hit the post and got cleared by Hoi King’s defense. However, the winner finally came when captain Fabio Lopes chested down a cross from Moser and put it past the keeper with only a single minute remaining on the clock. Yuen Long’s 2-1 win over Hoi King puts the latter in even greater relegation distress. 

With five rounds remaining, the top are now R&F (1), Tai Po (2), Southern (3), and Kitchee (4) – in that order – each of them only separated by one point. The narrow win of Yuen Long over Hoi King saw them overtaking Dreams to seventh and further away from relegation, whilst Hoi King remained at the bottom, still trailing two points behind Lee Man.

 

Match results

Southern 3:3 R&F (March 10th 2:30pm, Aberdeen Sports Ground; Attendance: 985)

Dreams 0:6 Kitchee (March 10th 5:30pm, Tsing Yi Sports Ground; Attendance: 856)

Lee Man 0:2 Taipo (March 10th 8pm, Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground; Attendance: 317)

Yuen Long 2:1 Hoi King (March 11th 2:30pm, Yuen Long Stadium; Attendance: 656)

 

Eastern and Pegasus have played their fixture in the previous week, which ended 2:2.

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