On the day after mid-autumn festival, a public holiday in Hong Kong, local football fans could enjoy the highly anticipated derby between arch rivals Kitchee and Eastern, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Before that, Tai Po threw away two points against Dreams, after conceding a late equalizer.
Dreams FC welcomed Tai Po to Tsing Yi Sports ground for the first of two Premier League games on Tuesday, September 25th. The Dreamers entered this match after overcoming Pegasus in the Senior Shield, while Tai Po boasted a draw and two wins in the season so far.
Both teams traded blows in the opening stages, with sloppy passes and clearances making for some gritty viewing. Dreams had spells of dominance in the first half, and only a lack of cutting edge in the final third prevented them from finding a breakthrough to goal. Tai Po managed to score in the 40th minute after the slow start, with Michel Lugo’s cross from the left being slotted home by fellow Brazilian Igor Sartori. After some nervy defending, the Greens entered the locker room at half-time with a slim 1-0 lead. However, Tai Po could not hold on for long after the interval. Dreams players were having considerable joy getting into the opposition box from the left flank all game, and minutes into the second half, some fabulous combination play fired the hosts back into the game. The Tai Po players were perhaps guilty of switching off at the back, as Dreams piled on the pressure, nearly scoring a second goal on the 50th minute mark from outside the box.
The match slogged on, with neither side really gaining an advantage. In the 55th minute, Tai Po defender Kilama was very fortunate not to be sent off, after a wild hack at the ball chopped down Dreams striker Nacho Martinez. The audience came alive briefly when Igor Sartori collected a pass in front of goal and shot high, only to be denied by the crossbar. The deadlock was again broken in the 73th minute, when Wong Wai cannoned a shot into the Dreams net from the top of the box. This moment of individual brilliance was undone by Dreams debutante Peng Lin-lin, who came on as a substitute and delivered a worldly to tie the game. Surrounded by green shirts in the box, the youngster brought the ball down with his right, and fired with his left past the despairing Li Hon-ho, for the final 2-2 score.
The game ended in a draw as Dreams were in the ascendancy. Dreams fans were happy to come away with a point, while conversely some Tai Po fans were dismayed at the team’s tactics and substitutions. Both teams will have to have a hard look at this error-strewn game and improve quickly, if they hope to move up the table this year.
The second game that day was between the giants of the league, as Kitchee took on Eastern at Mong Kok Stadium. Understandably, the two best teams in the league drew a large audience to the tune of 3,489 people in attendance.
Kitchee attacked first through Lucas Silva and Josip Tadić, but their shots did not trouble Yapp Hung-fai. Eastern also missed a chance to go ahead in the 36th minute as Michel Clayton headed wide. The teams retreated to the shed, scoreless at halftime.
The game remained a stalemate after the restart up till the 63rd minute, when Kim Bongjin was judged to have fouled Manuel Bleda in the box. The Spaniard himself stepped up to take the penalty, only to be denied superbly by Kitchee’s Wang Zhenpeng. The keeper guessed correctly and dove to his left to push Bleda’s penalty away for a corner.
Kitchee’s jubilation turned to ash moments later, as the corner was whipped in by Lam Ka-wai and converted by Bleda, as he rose highest in the box to put Eastern up 1-0.
Kitchee fought back, and both teams traded chances, but with the spirits of reigning champions the Bluewaves still found an equalizer in the 87th minute, as Ju Yingzhi struck an assist across goal for Tadić to strike home. The game ended in a draw that might suggest that Kitchee will see more obstacles this year to defend the title.
Dreams 2:2 Tai Po (September 25th, 2:30 pm, Tsing Yi Sports Ground, Attendance: 773)
Kitchee 1:1 Eastern (September 25th, 5:30 pm, Mong Kok Stadium, Attendance: 3,489)