Two biggest rivals of recent years fought for a spot in the FA Cup semifinal at the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground. On Sunday, March 15th, Eastern eliminated Kitchee, the defending champions, by a score of 0-2 with both goals in the second half from Sandro and Everton Camargo.
While the game remained scoreless for the first 56 minutes, Eastern took the lead shortly after the restart. Sandro, unmarked in Kitchee’s penalty area, received a short pass from Lucas Silva to fire a one-timer beating Wang Zhenpeng.
Later on, Lee Chi-kin’s men secured their win on a counter-attack in the 83rd minute. Chen Haowei sent a superb pass to Everton that surpassed the last defense line of the rivals. And, the Brazilian striker took all the time he needed to solve the goalkeeper on the breakaway.
Both sides were playing at a fast pace and were very aggressive and physical, which resulted in lots of fouls. Just before half-time, the situation escalated to fighting after Cleiton Velasques and Diego Eli tackled each other and fell. As a result, Wellingsson Souza of Kitchee and Everton and Eli received yellow cards from referee Ng Chiu-kok.
Unfortunately for Kitchee, they started the match on the wrong foot, being forced to play without their center back just 10 minutes from the start. Helio Goncalves suffered a facial fracture after being elbowed by Lucas Silva. Replaced by Ju Yingzhi, he was sent to the hospital for further examinations.
Although the scoreline did not change until the second half, Sandro curled a shot into the net off of a pass from Leung Chun-pong, but the assistant referee judged that the Brazilian was offside.
After trailing by the first goal, time became the biggest enemy of the reigning champions. Blaz Sliskovic penciled in Fernando to replace Park Junheong in order to add more power in the offense. And 10 minutes before the end of regulation, Nikolas Komazec substituted for Souza, whose performance was somehow disappointing. Despite better possession, they continued to press in quest of goals but could hardly generate any clear-cut chances.
With the win, Eastern will face Pegasus in the semi-final on Saturday, March 21st. On the other hand, Kitchee’s quest for the fourth consecutive FA Cup title came to an end, as well as their nine-game winning streak. They would now concentrate at the Premier League title and Sapling Cup for the rest of the season.