After last weekend’s third round of fixtures, this year’s Premier League is finally starting to taking shape. Pegasus FC currently lead the pack, followed by Eastern (2nd) and newcomers Dreams FC (3rd). Kitchee and South China are currently ranked 4th and 5th, but both teams have games in hand. Offside.hk brings you the round-up of the 3rd week, with a detailed report by Jacob Panons of the highly anticipated first clash between the two title aspirants – Eastern and Kitchee.
EASTERN 1:1 Kitchee
(Match report by Jacob Panons)
(Goalscorers: Belencoso 4′; Festus Baise 90′+5′)
Kitchee, playing for the first time in pink this season, took the lead early on when captain Lo Kwan Yee played a beautiful through ball over the top to Fernando who played the ball across the box allowing Belencoso to place the ball into an open net after just 4 minutes. Eastern almost pulled one back soon after when a bullet header from former South China striker Barisic was brilliantly saved by in-form Kitchee keeper Wang Zhenpeng. Somewhat surprisingly, hard-hitting Eastern only picked up one booking, with Ju Yingzhi being the culprit as he was shown a yellow card in the 18th minute.
Eastern made two subs at half time with Saric coming on for Da Silva and Xu Deshuai for Sun Hei legend Roberto. Not long into the second half Wang pulled off another acrobatic save to deny a powerful long shot from substitute Xu. This was definitely a game that showcased the talents of both goalkeepers and Eastern keeper Yapp Hung Fai didn’t disappoint when he palmed away a great volley from former Canada U20 midfielder Matt Lam. Despite making numerous saves, Kitchee keeper Wang made a terrible mistake when an atrocious goal kick rolled into Barisic’s feet who duly set the ball up for Ju Yingzhi. The midfielder looked destined to score but shockingly put it wide of the far post. Eastern finally broke through after countless attacking moves when former Kitchee player Xu Deshuai’s cross met Festus Biase for an open header to equalise in the last play of the game to send the Eastern fans into a frenzy at the full time whistle.
DATE AND TIME: Saturday 26th September, 5:30pm
STADIUM: Mong Kok Stadium
In the remaining games of the 3rd round, South China won their very first home match at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground. Following a heavy downpour, the game was delayed for an hour, but still more than 700 people found their way to the stadium despite the unpleasant weather. In what could be described as a rough game with plenty of bookings on both sides, South China managed to take control, especially once Southern District went down to just 10 men. In the 52nd minute, new Brazilian striker Lucas Da Silva scored his first Premier League goal and also the only goal of the match.
On Sunday, Dreams were taking on Yuen Long and had an excellent start in Sham Shui Po. After just 22 minutes Kenji Fukuda scored twice to put his team into a comfortable 2-0 lead. When Lau Hok Ming added another goal for the hosts in the 77th minute, everyone expected the game to be over, but Yuen Long showed impressive fighting spirit, which almost paid off. Similar to Hong Kong’s late comeback against Qatar, the boys in orange scored twice during injury time. But eventually it was too little too late, and the prayers for an equalizer by the loyal away fans remained unheard.
Last but not least, Pegasus FC were facing Rangers in a somewhat displaced home game. As the pitch renovation of Hong Kong Stadium hasn’t been finished, Canny Leung’s club will also host their current matches at Mong Kok Stadium along with both Eastern and Kitchee. Close to 800 people were watching a rather uneventful game, in which Pegasus’ striker Joao Emir provided a rare moment of entertainment in the 65th minute after his free kick found the back of the net to seal the points for the home side.
South China 1:0 Southern District
(Goalscorers: Lucas Da Silva 52′)
DATE AND TIME: Saturday 26th September, 2:30pm
STADIUM: Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground
Dreams FC 3:2 Yuen Long
(Goalscorers: Kenji Fukuda 11′ PEN, 21′, Lau Hok Ming 77′; José Cruz 90’+1′, Luciano Silva 90’+3′)
DATE AND TIME: Sunday 27th September, 2:30pm
STADIUM: Sham Shui Po Sports Ground
Pegasus FC 1:0 Rangers
(Pegasus goalscorer: Joao Emir 65′)
DATE AND TIME: Sunday 27th September, 5:30pm
STADIUM: Mong Kok Stadium
Due to the Senior Shield competition and the World Cup qualifier game of the Hong Kong representative team against Bhutan, the Premier League will re-commence on October 16th.
Photos courtesy of HKFA.com