Kitchee wrapped up their Sapling Cup group fixtures with a 3-2 victory over Rangers on Sunday, March 18th, at Hammer Hill Road Sports Ground. Jared Lum scored twice and Krisztian Vadócz tallied the decider to help the home side advance to the semifinal on top of their group. A crowd of 513 attended the match.
Although Kitchee hammered the visitors with big wins in the previous meetings this season, they could not generate enough pressure this time to replicate such lopsided scorelines. Nonetheless, two minutes into the game, Jared Lum lobbed his strike over goalkeeper So Chi-wai for the opening goal. Not long after, his close-range header on Lam Ka-wai’s diagonal cross doubled his team’s lead. Rangers cut the deficit to half in the 29th minute with their very first goal against Kitchee this season. Unmarked in the box, Lau Chi-lok’s header beat Guo Jianqiao. However, the potential game-decider came right before the break, when Vadócz’s one-two with Lucas Silva completely broke down the central defense before he easily beat the goalkeeper for a 3-1 lead.
After the break, it was exciting to see the visitors came out more aggressively, looking to play level with Kitchee, although it was a tough challenge to crack the defense. Eventually, they were awarded with a penalty in the 60th minute. The recently-joined Japanese Sasaki Shu converted from the spot or the final tally of the afternoon. Substitute Marko Krasic almost found the equalizer one minute later from 25 yards, but his attempt was saved by Guo.
This match also marked the debut of female referee Gigi Law in a top-tier men’s competition in Hong Kong.
With the victory, Kitchee secured their top finish in Group B with 10 points, while Pegasus ended up at second place with nine. In the semi-final Kitchee will take on the runners-up of Group A, Dreams FC, while Tai Po will lock horns with Pegasus. The games are scheduled for 21 and 22 April 2018.
Photo gallery by Ken Wu: