Following their victory over Tai Po in extra time, Dreams set themselves up to meet reigning FA Cup champions Kitchee in the semi finals. Yuen Long went all the way to penalties to get past Pegasus and they will face Southern next, who edged past R&F with a late winner.
Tai Po captain Wong Wai had to pull out of the game during warm-up, casting concerns over his fitness for the upcoming AFC Cup game on Wednesday, April 3rd. After the match started it only took Dreams six minutes to gain the lead, as Diego Higino capitalised on Tai Po’s defensive error to fire the loose ball past Tsang Man-fai. However, it was almost all Tai Po during the game with a couple of dangerous chances that were all denied by the brilliant To Chun-kiu. The Greens finally equalised through a Sandro volley, following Chak Ting-fung’s pinpoint cross in the 61st minute, which also took the match to extra time. Four minutes into AET, Nacho Martinez scored the winner after Jonathan Acosta worked past Tai Po’s defense down the left. It was To Chun-kiu again with heroic saves towards the end to deny Tai Po another equalizer, sending the Dreamers through to the next round.
With their regular centre-back pair both unavailable, Lee Man handed newly signed Taiwanese defender Chen Ting-yang his professional debut. The Bees started off brightly with an early chance wasted by Law Chun-yan from a Stefan Pereira through ball. But the Bluewaves showed composure and looked dangerous with Fernando active down the left. Their first goal came from the right though, as Tong Kin-man’s cross hit Fong Pak-lun’s arm inside the box. A penalty was awarded and Krisztian Vadocz calmly converted from the spot with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Kitchee doubled their lead just before the half-time whistle, when Ju Yingzhi’s freekick from the right was met by Li Ngai-hoi’s head at the far post. It was, however, not a straightforward win for Kitchee, as they were forced to make two substitutions, following injuries to Josip Tadic and Huang Yang. Lee Man returned from the break eagerly and within 15 minutes the Bees hit the post twice and saw a chance getting cleared off the line. However, that opened up space in their backline and Kitchee reacted by scoring three goals within nine minutes, with a brace from Matt Lam and another one added by Jordi Tarres after Fernando’s breakthrough down the left. With a minute remaining, Fernando found the net himself, following Yuto Nakamura’s work inside the box, to make it 6-0.
This quarter-final was the first of three consecutive meetings between Pegasus and Yuen Long as they would swuare off again in the league and Sapling Cup in the coming weeks. The first close chance came in the 38th minute when Jean Moser managed to get a touch on Law Chun-ting’s cross, but only to witness his looping effort bouncing off the crossbar. Pegasus made two half-time substitutions, including new signing Paul Ngue replacing captain Chan Siu-ki. In the second half, Chan Kwong-ho’s mid-range effort was tipped off the crossbar by Pegasus goalkeeper Leung Hing-kit. In the 75th minute the Flying Horsemen eventually broke the deadlock when Shu Sasaki smashed home, following David Lazari’s low pass from the left. Sasaki later had a 2-on-1 chance to double the lead, but it was cleared by Chan Ka-ho. Yuen Long pressed for the equaliser in the final minutes and Jean Moser once again hit the post with five minutes remaining. Just one minute later Chuck Yiu-kwok came close in a 1-on-1, which was denied by Leung Hing-kit and Cheung Kin-fung also saw his goalward attempt headed away by Cheung Chi-yung at in the 88th minute. The equaliser eventually came in the final minute, when Jean Moser headed in Chan Hiu-fung’s cross from the right to take the game into extra time. The additional 30 minutes ended in a stalemate, as the Tangerines hit the woodwork once again and the Flying Horsemen had a goal ruled offside. Kenneth Kwok then put on backup keeper Yip Ka-yu with a minute remaining for the shootouts. It was proven to be the correct choice, as Yip Ka-yu denied three spot-kicks, including the decisive sixth round taken by Wong Chun-ho. Pictures from the game can be found at the end of this article.
The previous meetings in the league between Southern and R&F both ended in draws, but the Aberdeeners got the upper hand in this tightly contested match. Twenty-five minutes into the game, Itaparica sent a long range shot goalwards, forcing a save from Li Yat-chun, who soon had to come off due to an injury. During the first half, both teams had their chances, but none of them was threatening the keepers. In the 56th minute, Wellingsson de Souza was sent all by himself to the goal from the center circle, but his shot was collected by Zhou Yuchen. R&F came close a few times through Tiago de Leonco, when he squared a dangerous pass across the box, but no one arrived in time. Soon after, Leonco was already past the keeper, but Lau Hok-ming intervened before the Brazilian could manage a shot. He had a further close range attempt that was cleared by a sliding-in Zesh Rehman. With just three minutes remaining, the Aberdeeners took home the win, when an unmarked James Ha put the ball past the keeper after Nikolas Komazec knocked down a cross.
Dreams started off the quarter-finals with an upset by beating Tai Po, booking their semi-final with Kitchee. Shootout winners Yuen Long will be up against their district team rivals Southern. The last four will meet each other at Mong Kok Stadium on the second weekend of May.
Tai Po 1:2 Dreams (March 30th 2:30pm, Tsing Yi Sports Ground; Attendance: 495)
Kitchee 6:0 Lee Man (March 30th 5:30pm, Mong Kok Stadium; Attendance: 1092)
Pegasus 1:1 (3:4) Yuen Long (March 31st 2:30pm, Sham Shui Po Sports Ground; Attendance: 673)
Southern 1:0 R&F (March 31st 5:30pm, Tseung Kwan O Sports Grond; Attendance: 529)
Photos by Ken Wu (offside.hk)