League

Kitchee clinch league and Sapling Cup double

With three out of six participating teams still could win the title ahead of the final day, the Premier League trophy went to Kitchee after one year, adding on to their earlier triumph in the Sapling Cup. Thanks to Manu Gavilan’s opener and Wellingsson de Souza’s second-half hattrick handed Kitchee an easy 4:0 win, whilst fellow contenders Eastern and R&F finished in a goalless draw. Meanwhile, Jordi Tarres career’s final goal and Leong Ka-hang’s hattrick for Lee Man sunk 10-men Southern with a 4:0 win to end their season on a high note. 

All three games kicked off together on Sunday afternoon 3 pm, and the first goal was seen at the game with the least attention at Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground between Lee Man and Southern. Gilvaniton found Jordi from a narrow angle in the first minute, who easily poked home to give the Bees an early lead. This also marked the final goal of the naturalised striker’s professional career, the last 10 years of which was in Hong Kong, who announced his retirement after the game. The Aberdeeners’ closest chance came from Hui Wang-fung, whose mid-range volley was pushed away by Yuen Ho-chun. The game-changing point came just before the half time, when James Ha was shown straight red while fighting for a header with Ngan Lok-fung near the mid-way line.

Being a man down gave Lee Man plenty of space up front, and Jordi’s second half substitute Leong Ka-hang was too much for them to handle. Leong scored his season’s first from Cheng Siu-kwan’s chipping pass in the 59th. He then doubled his tally in the 74th, arriving just in time at the near post to send home Wong Chun-ho’s cut back pass from deep down the right. His final goal came from the left after three minutes, when Gilvaniton’s cross found Leong, whose effort first hit the crossbar before deflected back in by Tse Tak-him to make it 4:0.

Over at Mong Kok, it was Kitchee, who needed a win and the right result elsewhere, up against Happy Valley, who was confirmed at the bottom of the table with only one point since the restart. Jahan Khan, who was one of the impressive young players in recent games, stunned everyone with a Marseille turn inside the box but got closed down before shooting. The game grew increasingly one-sided as expected, Happy Valley had a scary moment when Luciano cleared off the line a Nikolas Komazec’s effort, following a great movement by Kitchee. On the other side, Yuen Sai-kit dribbled into the box but his shot was easily collected. The deadlock was broken by Manu Gavilan in the 36rd minute, when the Spaniard’s right foot drive at the edge of the box went past To Chun-kiu to the far side of the net. Towards the end of the first half, some misunderstanding between To Chun-kiu and Wong Chi-hong led to an under-hit back-pass stolen by Nikolas Komazec, but the defenders rushed back and resolved the danger just in time. This caused an injury to the Serbian, forcing substitute Wellingsson de Souza to come on, who went on to make a game-changing impact.

Ten minutes after the break, Chan Shinichi found the crossbar with a curling freekick at the edge of the box curling off the crossbar. At 59th minute, Manu Gavilan drove down the right, before cutting a ball back to Wellingsson de Souza at the far post, who made no mistake sliding it off the woodwork to double the lead for the Bluewaves. Four minutes later, Wellingsson found his second with a powerful strike into the net, from a clever pass by Cheng Chin-lung. The Brazilian completed his hattrick just two minutes later: Heilo at the far post flicked a corner to the goalmouth, where Wellingsson was perfectly positioned to slot home at close range. The quick-fire of 3 goals within 6 minutes handed Kitchee a comfortable win. The young boys in Green kept their heads up in the remaining minutes but lacked in final thirds to overturn the game, but the restart of the league has been valuable experience for their growth for next season.

In a game that both teams had to win to make sure their chance of winning, they appeared more cautious from the start. R&F saw more chances in the first half, mostly from sending high crosses in, but Giovane and Dudu could not get their headers on targets. The Blues came closest to scoring through a counter by Everton, who ran into the box before slicing to Lee Ka-yiu, but the latter’s effort was parried by Zhou Yuchen. The busiest man from the half was Yapp Hung-fai, who denied Giovane and Igor Satori to keep things square at half time.

Ten minutes into the second half, Lucas Silva was only a step too far from poking home after Praes flicked on a corner. Two minutes later, Dudu was carded for a foul on Lucas Silva at a dangerous spot 30 yards out. Joao Emir’s resulting free-kick fell to an empty Everton, but his right-footed effort went high. On the other end of the pitch, Igor Satori’s shot went agonizingly wide, after Serge Deble supplied him near the spot. Towards the last 15mins, both teams stepped up their gears, probably because the score in Mong Kok was probably delivered among the pitch. At 79’, the R&F defenders failed to clear a ball near the spot, Everton took it out of the scramble but saw his shot punched away by Zhou Yuchen, who denied Educardo Praes’ close-range attempt on the rebound again. In the closing minutes, Matt Lam had a mid-range effort sending narrowly wide, while Chung Wai-keung also saw his low drive going out wide. Giovane then had an on-target shot deflected high by Wong Tsz-ho. In the 92nd minute, R&F was down to 10 men when Dudu received his second yellow with a dangerous tackle from behind on Everton at about 30 yards out. In the resulting freekick, Wong Wai’s freekick found Chak Ting-fung, whose header flew over the bar, as was Eastern’s final hope of winning the treble. 

After the final whistle at Mong Kok, the Bluewaves took a few seconds to check the result over at Hong Kong Stadium before celebrating their title. Having slipped up with a draw against Southern in their previous game, Chu Chi-kwong felt the pressure in games would be equal for other teams, so his team only focused on their own game, and only let his players know the score at the other ground until their win was secured. At the end of the long and unusual season with two pauses, Kitchee captain Huang Yang appreciated the efforts from all teams to complete the difficult season smoothly. Their opponents played well prior to Covid-19, but a lot of changes were seen since. Huang Yang believed Kitchee’s remaining experienced core, together with the injection of some up-and-coming young players, played as the key to their success. Already looking forward to next season, the Kitchee head coach also expressed his excitement at the possibility of playing at a higher level at the Asian Champions League, especially with his new core of younger players, who would certainly benefit from the exposure. 

 

Match results

Happy Valley 0:4 Kitchee (Oct 11th 3pm, Mong Kok Stadium, behind closed doors)

Southern 0:4 Lee Man (Oct 11th 3pm, Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground, behind closed doors)

Eastern 0:0 R&F (Oct 11th 3pm, Hong Kong Stadium, behind closed doors)

Highlights:

Credit: On.cc

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