In a game which represented a last real chance at staying in the hunt for silverware for these two sides, a stunned Southern where completely outclassed by a Tai Po side eager to make amends for their indifferent league form.
The opening exchanges saw little in the way of chances, and it took thirteen minutes before either side managed to muster an attempt on goal. The first was courtesy of a header from Paul Olivier Ngue, which was easily saved by Paulo Cesar in the Tai Po goal. This attempt proved not be a sign of the things to come, and for more or less the remainder of the game, Tai Po were well on top. Despite this, the New Territories side would have to wait to break the deadlock, as the Southern defence proved resolute for the majority of the first half. A breakthrough by Lucas Silva was thwarted by the onrushing Tse Tak-him, before the equally menacing Lee Ka-yiu cut in from the right-hand side before seeing his shot blocked by Diego Garrido. After two desperate attempts at goal at either end by Paul Olivier Ngue and Dudu respectively, one could have been forgiven for assuming that these two sides would be going in at the break level pegging. However, the deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time, courtesy of a moment of magic from Tan Chun-lok. An in-swinging cross by Lucas Silva was cleared away, but only as far as the skipper who launched a low drive at goal, beating Tse Tak-him and sending the Tai Po fans into frenzy. This was to be the last action of the opening period, with Tai Po going in with a one goal advantage at the break.
The second half began much in the same vein as the first, with the opening minutes providing few opportunities of note, with the only talking point being an incident between Marcos de la Espada and Yuto Nakamura which saw both players cautioned. This relative calm was brought to a halt on 67 minutes though, as Tai Po managed to double their lead, with Lucas da Silva running on to an excellent Itaparica through ball before coolly rounding the keeper and slotting the ball home. At this point, the visibly demoralised Southern players seemed to down tools, and Tai Po proceeded to dominate the remainder of the game. Two Itaparica free kicks came close, one via the head of Fung Hing-wa, and another which beat everyone and curled wide. Substitute Chiu Siu-wai was unlucky not to open his account for the season, as he latched on to a Lucas da Silva through ball, but snatched at the opportunity and was denied by the increasingly overworked Tse Tak-him. The third goal, which the Greens had been threatening for so long, eventually came minutes later as da Silva doubled his tally for the night, linking up with his countryman Itaparica before firing home. Not content with his two-goal salvo, da Silva came agonisingly close to completing his hat-trick in the dying minutes, as his long-range strike rattled the underside of the crossbar before bouncing down on the line and out. This was to be the last chance of the game, and referee Luk Kin-sun brought a halt to proceedings with the score locked in at 3-0. For the under-performing Southern, this result was something of a shock considering their relatively impressive league form in recent times, while for Tai Po, a cup final appearance against Pegasus awaits, and the chance to deliver some silverware to their much deserving band of supporters.
SOUTHERN: Tse Tak-him, Lau Hok-ming, Diego Garrido, Dieguito (Shay Spitz), Wellingsson De Souza, Chan Kong-pan, Roberto Fronza, Marcos de la Espada, Tomas Maronesi, Paul Olivier Ngue (James Ha), Tomoya Uchida
TAI PO: Paulo Cesar, Lima, Dudu, Lee Ka0-yiu (Lew Wai-yip), Lucas Da Silva, Fung Hing-wa, Tan Chun-lok, David Lazari, Itaparica, Yuto Nakamura (Wong Wai), Leung Sing-yiu (Chiu Siu-wai)
Venue: Mong Kok Stadium