Eastern jump to first position in Premier League

Credit: HKFA

The fifth round of the Premier League was completed over the weekend. Eastern became the new leader of the table after Southern and Lee Man both dropped points. Kitchee suffered another setback by an upsetting draw. Pegasus and Yuen Long remained the only teams without a victory.

Two matches were only played on Saturday, due to the Pegasus-Southern matchup was rescheduled for two days later. The Battle of New Territories was staged in Yuen Long where the visiting Tai Po beat the hosts 1-3 for their first win of the year. It was only two minutes into the game when Kim Minki found the net at close range to give the Greens the opening lead. Michel Lugo punished Yuen Long’s sluggish defense by stealing the ball on the right before crossing the ball to Sandro, who fed the Korean for an easy tally. The Tangerines were aggressive in offense, but unable to materialize the chances. Katê had bad luck when his low shot hit the post after beating Felix Luk. The match seemed to slip away from them, however, when they were forced to play shorthanded a minute into stoppage time. Pang Chiu-yin earned his second booking of the day after a late tackle for an ejection. Nonetheless, their equalizer came seven minutes after half time, when Walter Soares scored on a cross from Katê. From then, Tai Po seemed more determined for a win, and Lugo’s header in the 63rd minute proved to be the winner. Captain Dudu sealed the deal with a header at close range seven minutes after.

Simultaneously in Guangzhou, R&F handed the visiting Lee Man their first loss of the year with an easy 5-1 win. The Man of the Match would belong to Serges Déblé, who tallied four times in his last league game, earned another hat trick. The man from Ivory Coast switched on the machine at the 16-minute mark with an acute shot to beat Yuen Ho-chun. Giovane’s clinical finish doubled the lead midway through the first half before Diogo Santos scored Lee Man’s lone goal of the day. Déblé completed the hat trick with two goals in the span of three minutes. His second one was a blast inside the box, while the last one came from a breakaway. Igor Sartori wrapped up the team’s victorious afternoon with a penalty kick.

On Sunday, the biggest upset of the week occurred in Tuen Mun, where Rangers welcomed Kitchee at their home field. A spot-kick from Aendeer Naves in the last minute of stoppage time cancelled out Rangers’ 0-1 deficit for an epic 1-1 draw. The match looked more lopsided at the beginning when Kitchee did most of the offensive works. They came close on a few occasions but had to wait until Jared Lum’s superb free-kick to take the lead in the 27th minute. After switching sides, the hosts turned out to be more opportunistic with a counter-attack. It was Lam Hok-hei who represented the team’s best chance. Unfortunately, his close-range shot was only denied by the post. While it looked to be a sure win for Kitchee, especially after Tse Wai-chun of Rangers was sent off on his second booking in the 74th minute, they failed to hold onto the thin lead at the end. Deep in stoppage time, Dani Cancela fouled on Naves in the box. The Brazilian took charged himself to convert the penalty before the final whistle was blown. After the loss, Kitchee continue to drop points with three consecutive league draws and have not won since the opening night on August 30th.

At Hammer Hill Sports Ground, Eastern narrowly beat the hosting Happy Valley with a 1-2 victory. All tallies occurred in the span of 12 minutes in the first half. A corner from Xu Deshuai found the jumping Diego Eli whose powerful header gave Eastern the initial lead. Shortly after, Wong Wai went past Miovic into the box before passing to Jean Moser for a close-range finish. The home side cut the deficit to half in the 29th minute via a free kick on the left. Lai Pui-kei found Yuen Sai-kit in the penalty area, and Yuen relayed the cross to Miovic, whose header found the back of the net. Despite the visitors dominated the second half, many chances were squandered. Nonetheless, Eastern would be very satisfied with the result as they moved to the pole position of the league.

On Monday, Pegasus and Southern shook hands with a 2-2 draw under the floodlights at Hong Kong Stadium. Although both teams were aggressive at offense, great goalkeeping made the opening half scoreless. Sasaki Shu and David Lazari of the Flying Horsemen were denied by Tse Tak-him’s while at the other end, Zhang Chuihui, making a rare start at goal, pushed away Ticão’s try some 30 yards away. In the second half, Sasaki broke the deadlock after stealing the ball from Roberto Fronza from behind to beat the goalkeeper. Pegasus increased the lead to 2-0, when Charles Lokolingoy, after substituting in for three mere minutes, scored on a breakaway on the left. The Aberdeeners replied almost immediately though. A free-kick from Ticão targeted Fronza at far post and the latter centered the pass to Nikolas Komazec at goal mouth for an easy finish. They finally equalized three minutes into the stoppage time, after benefitting from the sluggish defense of the opposition. Three Pegasus defenders were hesitant on clearing a long pass from Southern’s own half before Hui Wang-fung rushed into the box for the loose ball and slotted it home to beat the goalkeeper.

At the end of the day, Eastern take over Southern to lead the table with 10 points. R&F and Southern are the second and third in the standing respectively, followed by Lee Man, Kitchee, Tai Po, Happy Valley, and Rangers. Pegasus and Yuen Long, the only two sides without a win, stay at the cellar of the league.

Match Results
Yuen Long 1:3 Tai Po (November 2nd 2:30pm, Yuen Long Stadium, attendance: 701)

R&F 5:1 Lee Man (November 2nd 2:30pm, Yanzigang Stadium, attendance: 384)

Rangers 1:1 Kitchee (November 3rd 2:30pm, Tuen Mun Tang Shiu Kin Sports Ground, attendance: 452)

Happy Valley 1:2 Eastern (November 3rd 2:30pm, Hammer Hill Road Sports Ground, attendance: 713)

Pegasus 2:2 Southern (November 4th 7:30pm, Hong Kong Stadium, attendance: 462)

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