Two unbeaten teams, Kitchee and Tai Po, collided at Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday evening for a hard-fought battle. And the Bluewaves got the best out of it with a 2-1 victory to get all three points and remain undefeated in their 2017/18 Hong Kong Premier League campaign.
Despite being off for three weeks due to postponement of the last away game against R&F as well as the following international break, Kitchee came out strong right after kickoff. The front line, aligned with Fernando, Lucas Silva, and Jared Lum, looked for an early lead, but Tai Po settled in quickly and countered with some threatening offense.
The very first good chance belonged to the visitors at the 19th minute, when Tan Chun-lok sent a cross from the left wing. Defending Dani Cancela mishandled the clearance, letting Yuen Chun-sing take direct aim, but his shot was blocked before it passed the goal line.
And it was only two minutes after that, when Tai Po opened the score with a free kick. Wong Wai launched a perfect cross from left to the heart of the box, where a scramble between the teams offered Dudu an opening and the Brazilian gave his team a 1-0 lead.
The second half looked rather one-sided for Kitchee, who kept the ball in possession in the offensive side for the majority of the time. However, waves of attacks have either been wasted or resisted by Tai Po’s impenetrable defense.
Nonetheless, the move to bring on Matt Lam, who replaced captain Lo Kwan-yee, turned out to be a perfect decision by coach Alex Chu. A corner from Lam to the near post was tailor-made for Krisztian Vadocz who thrust forward and headed in the equalizer at the 65th minute.
Later on, goalkeeper Tsang Man-fai made two impressive saves on efforts from Lucas Silva and Matt Lam, giving an impression that a 1-1 deadlock would be an appropriate outcome.
But Kitchee had a different thought in mind, and it was in the 88th minute that the perfect execution decided between three points and one. Lam curved an inch-perfect free kick into the box to find Sandro who lobbed in an unstoppable header for the lead, too late for Tai Po to take revenge.
Although the contest was arguably one of the most exciting ones this year, the tension also raised exponentially, resulting in six yellow cards that were handed out by referee Liu Kwok-man. Lucas Silva and Cancela of Kitchee received bookings, and so did Leung Kwun-chung, Tan Chun-lok, Dhiego Martins, and Dudu of the Greens.
With a rallied victory, Kitchee now share the first-place position with Pegasus while Tai Po drop to fourth place behind Southern.