For the 18th and final round of the 2018/19 Hong Kong Premier League season, all ten teams played their games simultaneously across the territory. While Tai Po had already confirmed the title in their previous match against R&F, they were duly prepared for a proper championship celebration in the district. Meanwhile, the race for second place was still on, as R&F, Southern, and Kitchee hoped for a good finish. In the end, only one of them achieved this. Match reports by Tobias Zuser, Chris Lau, Zinc Yeung, and Christie Leung.
For a detailed report of Tai Po’s last match and the following championship party please check out our separate article.
At Hong Kong Stadium, Eastern hosted Kitchee in a strange encounter between the two arch-rivals. Only few people would have expected that the regular title contenders would be left with nothing to play for in the last round of the season. However, the 965 spectators that chose to attend this game were provided lots of action. It all started with Wang Zhenpeng’s red card in the fourth minute, after he had handled the ball outside the box in a one-on-one situation with Eastern’s Manuel Bleda. He was then replaced by Guo Jianqiao, much to the dismay of Barak Braunshtain, who was sacrificed for the mishap. The one-man advantage allowed Eastern to command most of the game. Kitchee started without Lucas Silva, putting Cheng Chin-lung as the sole forward up front. They also rested Jared Lum and Fernando ahead of the FA Cup final, the latter being on the dangerous count of four yellow cards. Shortly before the break, Lee Hong-lim put Eastern in front, following an accidental assist by Kitchee centre-back Helio. The second half was more of the same, although the Bluewaves tried to do a little bit more for the game, bringing in Jordi Tarres and Lucas Silva. But it was not enough, as in the 69th minute Robert Vaz Shimbuku sealed Eastern’s 2-0 victory, allowing the Blues to finish a disappointing season on a high in fifth position, just a single point behind fourth-placed Kitchee.
Yuen Long ended their relatively disappointing season on a high as well, with commanding performance and a 7-1 win over a below-par Southern District side. A very uncharacteristic performance from the Aberdeeners could mean they simply wanted to save their energy and nerves for the upcoming FA Cup final against Kitchee. Though it seemed it was just one of those days where nothing really went according to plan. All goals were scored by Yuen Long players as Southern’s consolation goal was an own goal. Jean Moser lead the way for the New Territories side with two goals. Yuen Long played fluid attacking football and will question why they could not perform like this all season, as their recent showing belies their final league position. The defeat saw Southern lose the chance to finish second in the league, and they will hope to erase this game from memory by winning the upcoming cup final.
R&F managed to hold on to the second position after a 3-2 comeback win over Pegasus at Mong Kok Stadium. In the eleventh minute, Pegasus took the lead from a penalty by Shu Sasaki, after the Japanese midfielder had been fouled by Tan Chun-lok. However, Serge Deble equalized for R&F just six minute later. The Ivorian winger’s shot from inside the box should have been easily dealt with by Zhang Chunhui, but an error by the Pegasus keeper allowed it in. In the 36th minute, Deble’s cross found Sean Tse, who rose above Cheung Chi-yung to give R&F the lead. But that only lasted three minutes until Cheung himself equalized for the Flying Horsemen with a close-range header.
R&F continued to look for the winning goal in the second half, and Cheung Chi-yung nearly gifted them one as he headed the ball a bit too hard back to his own goal, but luckily for him it was saved by Zhang. Giovane da Silva had a few chances on goal and finally scored in the 70th minute following a miscommunication between Rosen Kolev and Zhang Chunhui that allowed the naturalized forward to tap the ball into an empty net. R&F head Coach Yeung Ching-kwong confirmed after the match that he would remain at R&F next season and thanked the club for the support.
Last but not least, Lee Man and Hoi King locked horns at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground. The latter started their last game in the Hong Kong Premier League with only one foreigner on the pitch, as Ze Victor could not play against his parent team Lee Man, Robert had already returned to Kitchee, and Kim Minki had left by mutual consent. The home side had slightly more scoring opportunities, including an offside goal from Law Chun-yan, but the first half ended goalless. The deadlock was broken nine minutes into the second half, as Chris Annan drove down the left, crossed from the sidelines towards Lew Wai-yip, who was at the far post and sent the ball into the empty net with a diving header. Felix Luk and his defenders did well on the other end to maintain the win, as the Kingsmen bid farewell to top flight football with their heads high. Wong Yim-kwan was shown his second yellow in stoppage time and would be suspended in the first match of next season.
Tai Po 3:1 Dreams (May 19th, 2:30pm, Tai Po Sports Ground; Attendance: 2088)
Eastern 2:0 Kitchee (May 19th, 2:30pm, Hong Kong Stadium; Attendance: 965)
Southern 1:7 Yuen Long (May 19th, 2:30pm, Aberdeen Sports Ground; Attendance: 321)
Pegasus 2:3 R&F (May 19th, 2:30pm, Mong Kok Stadium; Attendance: 564)
Lee Man 0:1 Hoi King (May 19th, 2:30pm, Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground; Attendance: 264)