A brace and an assist in the first half by Stefan Pereira earned Lee Man three points over Southern at Tseung Kwan O in front of 352 fans on a chilly Sunday evening, December 10th.
Lee Man had their regular centre-back Son Min-chol starting from bench due to a knock in the previous game, freeing an extra foreign spot in the attack. Meanwhile, Southern had their leading goalscorer Marcos de la Espada and captain Michael Luk suspended.
Southern started perfectly into the game and took the lead after just five minutes, when Lau Hok-ming headed in from a Chan Man-fai corner. For a moment, things looked similar to the teams’ previous encounter in the Senior Shield in October, when the Aberdeeners won 2-0 after two first-half headers. However, Lee Man did not keep their heads down this time and were soon to find an equalizer. Tse Long-hin’s cross from the right found an unmarked Stefan Pereira at the far post who headed home in the 13th minute.
Six minutes later, Tse Long-hin delivered a long throw-in, and although Ze Victor’s close-range shot was saved by Tse Tak-him, Stefan Pereira poked the rebound into the net to put Lee Man in front.
In the 26th minute, Stefan Pereira won the ball in his own half and rushed forward, before playing a through ball which Sham Kwok-fai just managed to intercept. However, it was still easy for Denis Lima to score from the edge of the box into the bottom right corner, giving his team a surprising 3-1 lead.
Southern remained dangerous through Chan Man-fai’s set pieces and Che Runqiu’s long throw-ins, but could not get the ball past an in-form Felix Luk. Paul Olivier Ngue found the back of the net during added time, but was correctly ruled offside just before the half time.
Southern’s Ricky Cheng made double substitutions to bring on Leung Tsz-chun and Hui Wang-fung for Paul Ngue and Sham Kwok-fai, changing the formation from a 3-4-3 to a 4-1-2-3 to add more weight up front.
Southern gained more possessions and pressed forward, but Lee Man were also keen to defend their lead, leaving only two players up front. In the 66th minute, as Lee Man cleared another Southern corner, Wellingsson de Souza blasted a low ball, but Felix Luk reacted quickly to smother the chance. In the 70th minute, Lau Hok-ming’s powerful header went over the bar from a freekick.
The pace of the game increased as both teams focused on counter-attack, and Southern almost pulled one back, when de Souza’s header hit the bar after a right wing cross from Chan Man-fai. With ten minutes remaining, Southern made their final change, with Beto Fronza making his comeback after a 7-month injury. Meanwhile, Lee Man used up their substitution quota one by one to see out the time and secure the three points.
The victory sent Lee Man up to eighth in the table, away from the relegation zone, and just one point behind sixth-placed Southern.