Eastern back on top of the Premier League

The Premier League has completed the sixth round of fixtures last week, and Eastern successfully claimed back the top spot in the table, for the first time since May 2017. Meanwhile, Southern, Pegasus, Tai Po, and Kitchee keep the championship an open rance. Round-up by Patrick Au-Yeung, additional reporting and photos by Christie Leung.

In the stand alone mid-week evening game on October 31st, Eastern rose the first placed in the league after a thrilling 3-2 win over Yuen Long on Halloween night at Hong Kong Stadium. Everton Camargo carried on his great form to score a brace against his former employers. Eastern quickly opened the score with 8 minutes into the game, when Lam Ka-wai stole the ball and picked up Everton Camargo, who started his speedy run from the halfway line. The Brazilian edged past his defender, rounded the keeper and sent the ball into the empty net. In the 21st minute, another long ball from Lee Hong-lim found Everton Camargo, but this time his attempt was deflected by Tomas Maronesi. On a quick counter on the other side of the pitch, Chan Hiu-fung reached the end of Fabio Lopes’ cross just before the out-coming Yapp Hung-fai and poked the ball past him. Yusuke Igawa arrived at the near post, but could only watch the ball looping over him into the goal to make it 1-1 after 26 minutes. Yuen Long almost took the lead a minute before half-time, when Kessi’s close range header was saved by Yapp.
Coming back from the break, Kessi once again had a 6-yard header denied by Yapp Hung-fai. Instead, it was Eastern who scored again in the 66th minute, with a similar attack combination as the first goal, when Lam Ka-wai found Everton Camargo down the left, who moved into his high gear again and sent the ball into the far bottom right corner. The Blues extended their lead to 3-1 five minutes later, when an unmarked Manuel Bleda received Xu Deshuai’s pass from the left and made no mistake to tuck it away.  But the game was not over yet. The Tangerines pulled one back after five minutes, when Chan Kwong-ho headed in Cleiton’s cross from close range to make it 3-2. Both sides were keen to add to the score in the remaining ten minutes, but ailed to do so. Cleiton saw his header skimmed off the post. The closest opportunity fell to Eastern, as Manuel Bleda found the back of the net in a quick counterattack, but the goal was ruled offside.

On Saturday, November 3rd, hosts Lee Man took the lead twice over Dreams, but the relegation battle ended in a 2-2 draw. Starting very aggressive right from the beginning, the Bees had to wait until the 39th minute to break the goalless score, when Leong Ka-hang slotted the ball home with just the goalkeeper to beat. Dreams quickly equalized ten minutes after the break with a free-kick, thanks to Marcos Gondra’s terrific left-footed effort some 20 yards away. However, the tie only lasted for two minutes, as Leong scored his second of the day after a cross from Fong Pak-lun during a counter-attack. Still, the hosts failed to sustain the lead once again. In the 85th minute, a Dreams corner from the right was cleared out of the box, but Yoon Donghun picked up the ball and fired a volley past Yuen Ho-chun for the late and deserved equalizer.

In the second match on Saturday, Pegasus drew 1-1 with Southern at Mong Kok Stadium, thanks to a very late goal from Chan Siu-ki. The Aberdeeners, who dropped to second place in after Eastern’s victory on Wednesday, opened the score in the 11th minute when Marko Krasic headed home a corner from Michael Luk. Leading the circuit with the most goals, the Flying Horsemen soon found their rhythm and could have overcome the deficit with several serious threats, but those on-target attempts were all denied by outstanding Tse Tak-him. In the end it was substitute Chan Siu-ki who saved the day for Pegasus. João Emir’s pin-point cross from the right found Chan, who came from behind to beat Tse from close range.

On Sunday, November 4th, Tai Po beat the visiting R&F by a score of 3-1, with goals from Dudu, Harrison Sawyer and Michel Lugo. In an attempt to build upon their unbeaten streak, the Greens opened the score in the 25th minute, with Dudu heading home from a corner. Tai Po were the better team for most part of the game, highlighted by their possession and on-going goal threat. Their lead was doubled in the 60th minute, when Sawyer got the ball past Sean Tse and goalkeeper Zhou Yuchen from extremely close range. Lugo wrapped up Tai Po’s scoring in the 68th minute with a breakaway. It was not until four minutes before regular time that the Guangzhou-based club found the consolation goal, when defender Sasa Novakovic put his name on the scoreboard with a header. The latest defeat stopped R&F’s run of three league victories that began on September 29th.

The weekend’s schedule wrapped up with Kitchee beating Hoi King 8-1 vat Mong Kok Stadium on November 4th. The Bluewaves ended a slump of three win-less matches at the expense of the worst team in the league. Nonetheless, for the first part Alex Chu’s men could hardly generate any good opportunity despite creating one-way traffic. Lucas Silva’s effort in the 7th minute remained the only real threat throughout the first half. The Brazilian finally sparked the floodgate after restart, when he received a cross from Cheng Chin-lung at the near post to make it 1-0. Shortly after, Hoi King were down to 10 men after Wong Tsz-chun fouled Fernando to earn his second yellow card. Cheng tallied his first of the year with a terrific volley just inside the penalty box, leaving Felix Luk no chance for rescue. To make matters even worse for the visitors, they were just down to nine men from the 62nd minute onwards, as Kim Jin-seo also received his second booking. Nonetheless, their counter-attack broke Kitchee’s shutout six minutes later. Lew Wai-yip stole the ball from the opposition’s short corner and ran almost 80 yards before releasing a shot that was initially saved by Guo Jianqiao. But Bae Chan-soo picked up the rebound for his first career goal in the league. The Bluewaves added five more afterwards with substitute Robert Goncalves playing a major role with a hat-trick and an assist. Lucas finished the night with two, while Jordi Tarres and Jared Lum completed the eight-goal fiesta.

Entering the international break, Eastern, on same points with Southern, take the pole position, having both the better goal difference and still one game in hand. Pegasus are already trailing them by three points. Further down the table, Kitchee and Tai Po slightly moved up and match R&F, but the Greens have played one game more than the rest. Nothing changes at the bottom of standings, as Hoi King keep the red taillights. Dreams are second last, trailing Lee Man by two points.

Eastern 3-2 Yuen Long (October 31st, 8pm, Hong Kong Stadium; Attendance: 898)
Lee Man 2-2 Dreams (November 3rd, 2:30pm, Tseung Kwan-O Sports Ground; Attendance: 525)
Pegasus 1-1 Southern (November 3rd, 5:30pm, Mong Kok Stadium; Attendance: 1,295)
Tai Po 3-1 R&F (November 4th, 2:30pm, Tai Po Sports Ground; Attendance: 1,105)
Kitchee 8-1 Hoi King (November 4th, 5:30pm, Mong Kok Stadium; Attendance: 1,038)


Photo gallery for Kitchee vs Hoi King by Christie Leung

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