On Thursday night, January 18th, the second half of the Hong Kong Premier League season officially commenced as Eastern entertained Kitchee as hosts at Mong Kok Stadium, with the home side suffering a humiliating 8-1 defeat to the defending champions. Setting a new attendance record for the current season, 5,415 witnessed the unexpectedly lopsided match between the arch-rivals.
Lucas Silva, with his second hat-trick this campaign, put his name on the scoresheet, alongside three other Kitchee players as well as Yusukue Igawa’s own goal.
Lucas netted the opener just two minutes into the game, after a crucial mistake by Bai He who unnecessarily gave away the ball in the penalty box. The Brazilian was also partly responsible for Yusuke Igawa’s own goal by applying pressure on the Japanese defender, who wrongly put the ball past Yapp Hung-fai. Vadocz tallied Kitchee’s third at the 38-minute mark on a through-pass from his former Mumbai City teammate Diego Forlan, who started for the first time for the Bluewaves.
Failing to find a way to counter the opponents’ offensive strength, Eastern totally surrendered by conceding five more goals in the second half. Jared Lum scored in the 55th minute, while Lucas completed his hat-trick in a span of six minutes. Fernando inserted his name twice to complete the rout late in the game.
Jaimes McKee blemished Wang Zhenpang’s clean sheet in the 76th minute, offering Eastern a tiny consolation before their important ACL qualifier against Vietnamese club Thanh Hoa as well as the upcoming Senior Shield final against Yuen Long. Unsurprisingly, the Eastern management had to react after the game, and Szeto Man-chun was removed as head coach. Meanwhile, assistant coach Lee Kin-wo will be the new man in charge.
Ending their two-game streak without a win, Kitchee can enjoy a ten-day rest before their next match against Rangers on Sunday, January 28th.