After round 7 of the Hong Kong Premier League, three teams share the pole position of the Premier League standings, while Yuen Long remain the only team without a single win, as the campaign is getting closer to mid-season.
On Friday, 29 November, Kitchee hosted R&F at Mong Kok Stadium where the game ended in a 0-0 draw. The game between two serious title contenders was fast-paced, physical, and entertaining. The visiting team had a stronger start, generating more opportunities after kickoff. Lo Kong-wai came close in the fifth minute, but the crossbar denied him after Wang Zhenpeng let go thinking the shot would sail high. A few moments later, Roberto Affonso’s effort from inside the box was going for top-shelf until Li Ngai-hoi blocked it with his head. Kitchee then settled down, gaining more control at midfield. However, they had to play without their best left-back as the contest approached the break. Dani Cancela had to leave the game with an injury to his right knee. The Guangzhou-based club threatened again in the second half. Leung Nok-hang had the best chance, but his header was pushed away by Wang’s diving stop. On the other hand, Jared Lum was stopped by Zhou Yuchen on a breakaway before Ju Yingzhi’s attempt went just wide at the far post for the last shot of the match.
While it was the first scoreless draw of the season on the previous evening, Yuen Long Stadium held a goal festival on the next day as Yuen Long and Rangers shared points following a 4-4 tie. Leandro Basan’s second goal of the day saved Rangers in stoppage time of the second half. In the end, the Tangerines remain the only team without a win despite a promising start. Walter Soares tallied twice, both from headers, for Yuen Long’s 2-0 lead midway through the first half. Nonetheless, Rangers cancelled this out in a span of just one minute. A superb free-kick from Aender Naves cut the deficit before Basan beat Chan Ka-ho with another header. After switching sides, the hosts took the lead again twice but were countered each time by the opponents. Maicon Santana slotted home seven minutes after the restart, while Aender Nandes completed his double with another wonderful free kick from the edge of the box. Veteran Yip Tsz-chun gave Yuen Long hope for a win in the 83rd minute. Unmarked in the box, he headed home a shot beating Ji Xiangzheng to give the hosts a 4-3 lead, just moments before Nasan’s final equalizer.
Three matches were staged on Sunday, 1 December. At Hammer Hill Sports Ground, the visiting Southern beat Happy Valley 4-1 to end a streak of two losses. They got help from Igor Miovic’s own goal for a quick start in the tenth minute. The Serbian made an attempt to clear Nikola Komazec’s free-kick, but headed into his own net instead. Fortunately, his teammate Mahir Karic bailed him out with an equalizer from a close-range shot. Nonetheless, Southern regained the lead for good in the 79th minute, when James Ha fired home from six yards. Travis Major converted a penalty kick seven minutes later after the Australian was knocked down in the box. Ha collected his double with a header just before the final whistle.
Simultaneously, at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, Lee Man punished Tai Po with a 4-1 victory, courtesy of Givanilton’s (aka “Gil”) hat-trick. The Bees had to wait until the 44th minute before the opposition surrendered. Michaël N’dri made a pass to Gil, who slotted home for his first of the afternoon. One minute later, N’dri set up Gil again with a pass, sending the latter for a breakaway chance. Moments later, the ball was found at the back of the net after the Brazilian lobbed the out-coming Felix Luk. The combination of N’dri and Givanilton piled up goals in the second half again. The French was on the receiving end this time, making it 3-0 before Gil registered his third of the evening. The Greens fought back, seeking to spoil Yuen Ho-chun’s shutout. Nakamura Yuto was first to beat him, but his goal was disallowed after the linesman signaled he was offside to start with. Two minutes later, they found their consolation, when Sandro netted a good shot past Yuen from the right-hand side.
Eastern claimed a victory after visiting Pegasus for the last fixture of the week, despite the game remaining scoreless for the first 86 minutes. In the end, it was Wong Wai’s terrific effort from 30 yards out that decided Eastern’s 1-0 win. Either team squandered some good scoring occasions. For Eastern, Everton Camargo could have had the opener in the early portion of the game, Lee Ka-yiu, who came in for Tsang Kam-to due to injury, wasted a volley shot, and Clayton Afonso’s header hit the post a few minutes before Wong’s goal. David Lazari of Pegasus was denied by Yapp Hung-fai on the other end, while Charles Lokolingoy’s shot went off target as the contest reached the closing stage.
In the standings, Eastern, R&F, and Lee Man are all on 13 points now, sharing the pole position, although the last two each have still a game in hand. Southern rank fourth, while Kitchee, who remain unbeaten, are fifth. Tai Po, Pegasus, Rangers, Happy Valley, and Yuen Long complete the order. The relegation battle is as exciting as the contention race, as the seventh and the last are only separated by three points.
Kitchee 0-0 R&F (November 29, 20:00, Mong Kok Stadium; Attendance: 1,823)
Yuen Long 4-4 Rangers (November 30, 14:30, Yuen Long Stadium; Attendance: 627)
Happy Valley 1-4 Southern (December 1, 14:30, Hammer Hill Sports Ground; Attendance: 456)
Lee Man 4-1 Tai Po (December 1, 14:30, Sham Shui Po Sports Ground; Attendance: 742)
Pegasus 0-1 Eastern (December 1, 17:30, Hong Kong Stadium; Attendance: 568)