Sean Tse’s last minute header sends Tai Po into AFC Cup

Photo: Zinc Yeung (offside.hk)

On May 13th Tai Po and Pegasus battled for the second place in the Premier League as well as a spot in the AFC Cup. Chan Siu-ki’s shot from close range put the Flying Horsemen in the lead early on, but goals from Eduardo Praes and Sean Tse after the break completed the comeback for the Greens. 

Pegasus started energetically into the game and crated a number of chances. Dudu’s handball, just one minute after the game started, was ruled to have been committed outside the box despite protest from Pegasus players. Joao Emir’s subsequent free-kick was blocked by the wall. Soon after Chan Siu-ki missed the goal by inches and one minute later the Pegasus captain scored with a clever finish after being set up by Joao Emir.

Tai Po was a little bit sluggish in the first half, maybe partly because of the hot weather which affected the performance of the players. The Greens provided a few crosses, but none really threatened Pegasus goalkeeper Leung Hing-kit. Tai Po’s midfielders attempted a number of long passes, but most of them failed to find their intended recipients. Star player Igor Sartori was heavily marked and made little impact. As a result, the first half ended with the Flying Horsemen leading by one goal.

Pegasus struggled to cope with Dhiego in the second half

Tai Po, aiming for a comeback in order to secure a second place finish, pressed much higher in the second half and coach Lee Chi Kin brought in Dhiego Martins, who proved to be difficult to contain for the Pegasus defense. Moreover, the Flying Horsement couldn’t only focus on Igor Sartori anymore, which allowed the Brazilian forward to put in a beautiful cross in the 69th minute for Eduardo Praes to equalize for Tai Po from close range.

Pegasus, aiming for a draw, put on Kilama, but the naturalized centre-back did little to help his team. In the meantime, Tai Po pushed up Eduardo Praes and Sean Tse as strikers, and bombarded the Pegasus box with crosses. The Greens’ continuous pressure finally paid off in the 89th minute when Wong Wai’s cross found Sean Tse whose diving header went past Leung Hing- kit to complete the comeback for Tai Po.

Sean Tse’s last minute header win it for Tai Po

This means that Tai Po finished the Premier League as runners up with 37 points, three points above Pegasus. They also secured a place in the AFC Cup qualifiers next season as their opponent in the FA Cup final, Kitchee, were crowned league champions and will play in the Asian Champions League qualifiers next year. Meanwhile Pegasus may still play in the AFC Cup qualifiers if Kitchee would progress to the ACL group stages.

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