Big-spending Kitchee suffered another setback of the season, as their defending road to the Senior Shield came to the end in the quarter-finals. On the other hand, R&F, Eastern, Lee Man, and Tai Po accessed to the Final Four over the past weekend.
A week after drawing a 1-1 tie with lowly Rangers, the Bluewaves bowed to Lee Man by a 1-5 defeat Sunday at Yuen Long Stadium. Despite Manuel Bleda returned to starting lineup to boost the attack, the Bluewaves surrendered four goals just in the first half. In the 12th minute, Yu Pui-hong easily opened the scoring after breaking through from the left flank. Yu Wai-lim doubled the team’s lead later, when Cheng Siu-kwan’s free-kick reached the far post on the right, Dani Cancela failed to clear it before Yu slotted home. Gil Martins scored twice to give Lee Man’s a commanding 0-4 lead before switching sides. In an attempt to overcome the big deficit, Kitchee entered Lucas to add power, and their hard press eventually spoiled Lee Man’s shutout with a goal from Bleda. However, that was all they could muster, especially after Lucas got a direct red card in the 63rd minute on a rough challenge to Ngan Lok-fung. Michaël N’dri completed the rout with a terrific shot in the added time to send Lee Man into semi-finals of the Senior Shield for the first time in the franchise history.
Last year’s runners-up, Tai Po, continued their quest again this season, after exiting Rangers with a convincing 5-1 victory at Mongkok Stadium. Although Rangers defended well for a good portion of the first half, the Greens broke the deadlock with a terrific left-foot effort from Yeung Chi-lun inside the box to beat So Chi-wai on his right. Michel Lugo scored in a similar fashion one minute into stoppage time. Rangers became more opportunistic in the second half. Leandro Basan and Lam Hok-hei were given good chances but Felix Luk denied all. Then, Tai Po to added on, first with Sandro’s clinical finish before Chan Man-fai’s shot that lobbed the diving goalkeeper. Basan reduced team’s deficit from a spot-kick after Ben Van Meurs committed a handball in Tai Po’s box. But the Greens were not done with scoring until Michael Luk’s free-kick at 20 yards hit the crossbar and bounced into the back of the net.
While both Sunday fixtures were big-scoring affairs, two other quarter-final matches on the previous day ended with a tight finish.
At Tsing Yi Sports Ground, Giovane’s dying-second goal in the second half sent R&F into the semifinals in two consecutive seasons, after marginally eliminating Pegasus by a score of 2-1. In general, more chances came from the Guangzhou-based club throughout the battle. It was only a matter of conversion which only happened for the first time at the 73-minute mark. Giovane headed home on a long pass from Lo Kwan-yee to take the opening lead. Trailing by a goal, Pegasus worked harder for an equalizer. Sasaki Shu was maybe an inch away from scoring with a low attempt past Zhou Yuchen but Emmerson came from nowhere to rescue at the goal line by clearing it away. Nonetheless, they cashed in seven minutes before the end of the game. Charles Lokolingoy equalized on a breakaway after circumventing two R&F defenders. While the Flying Horsemen tried to bring the tie into the extra-time, R&F, had another idea in mind. Five minutes into stoppage time, Giovane tallied the game-winner after receiving a low cross from Tiago De Leonço.
On the same evening, Eastern received Southern at Mongkok Stadium for a very entertaining matchup. The hosts of the match punched the ticket to the semifinal, thanks to Everton Camargo’s early goal to claim a 1-0 victory. At the 13-minute mark, the Brazilian played a short one-two with captain Diego Eli outside the box before releasing a low shot to beat Tse Tak-him. As the game developed, both sides had some decent chances but failed to capitalize – and give credits to great performance from both goalkeepers as well. Eastern thought they had two-goal lead midway through the first half, after Eli’s breakaway beat Tse but the referee determined Eli was offside in the first place while receiving Everton’s quick free-kick pass from midfield. The match became a heated affair from the 35th-minute mark when a melee sparked referee Ho Wai-sing to send off one player on each side. It all started after Zeshan Rehman who knocked down Everton at the sideline right in front of Southern’s bench, the Pakistani defender kicked the fallen Everton again to escalate the matter. As the melee concluded, Clayton Afonso of Eastern and Rehman were ejected. A third red card occurred before the half-time whistle. Lee Ka-yiu knocked down Dhiego Martins for his second booking of the night. While enjoying a man-advantage until the end of the game, the Aberdeeners failed to find an equalizer. In the second half, Dhiego’s long-range strike was merely one of few that hit on target to challenge Yapp Hung-fai. As the final note of the match, eight yellow cards were shown, in addition to three ejections.
The semi-finals will be held over the Christmas holidays. R&F will host Eastern on December 25th while Lee Man will collide with Tai Po on the following day. Both matches are scheduled to play at Mongkok Stadium.
R&F 2:1 Pegasus (November 9th, 2:30pm, Tsing Yi Sports Ground, attendance: 377)
Eastern 1:0 Southern (November 9th, 5:30pm, Mongkok Stadium, attendance: 981)
Kitchee 1:5 Lee Man (November 10th, 2:30pm, Yuen Long Stadium, attendance: 605)
Tai Po 5:1 Rangers (November 10th, 5:30pm, Mongkok Stadium, attendance: 544)