Hong Kong 2 – 3 Guangdong
Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup (First Leg)
Chan Siu Ki 39’, Ju Yingzhi 45’ ; Cui Ning 4’, Huang Haoxuan 9’, Lu Lin 89’
Guangdong secured victory in the first leg of the 36th Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup thanks to a well worked late goal from Lu Lin. The game was very open and refreshingly free of time wasting and theatrics and looked set for a draw until the Guangzhou R&F man provided a dramatic ending.
After losing the 2012 and 2013 editions of the cup on penalties, the Guangdong team handed the coaching reins to former national team goalkeeper Ou Chuliang for his first ever match in charge. He could pick from a squad mainly composed of Guangdong Sunray Cave players back up by a few Provincial youth team players as well as one each from China League Two sides Shenzhen Fengpeng and Meixian Hakka. Guangzhou R&F had also agreed to release Cantonese legend Lu Lin and midfielder Feng Zhuoyi. There were no representatives from Guangzhou Evergrande though as their season only recently ended with a fourth place finish at the Club World Cup.
The Hong Kong national side had more experience thanks to their involvement in Asian Cup Qualification and their line-up was more familiar with each other as only Chan Siu Ki and Leung Chun Pong play outside the former British colony.
Hong Kong started brightly and created two early chances at a sunny and cold Mong Kok stadium but fell behind after four minutes. An attempted clearance from a corner ricocheted off Guangdong captain Liu Sheng and fell kindly for Cui Ning to bundle home. The mainland Cantonese doubled their advantage shortly afterwards when youngster Huang Haoxuan stepped inside off the left wing and struck a right footed shot which crept just inside the near post.
The greater experience of Hong Kong gradually came to the fore though and they battled back into the game with a series of physical challenges, had a good claim for a penalty turned down and saw a flicked on free-kick hit the crossbar. Striker Chan Siu Ki pulled one back when he tapped in Fong Pak Lung’s cross unmarked at the back post.
The Hong Kongers weren’t done and scored the equaliser just before half time. All time Hon Kong leading scorer Chan chested down Ye Honghui’s goalkick and Ju Yingzhi carried the ball forward, span away from Zhu Cong and hit a low but not very powerful shot which found its way into the bottom corner.
The second half remained open but was disrupted by a flow of substitutions as each side made six changes with few enforced by injury. Birmingham born Jaimes Mckee had an immediate impact for Hong Kong as his strength created a chance for Sham Kwok Kung but he dragged his shot wide. The best chance that Guangdong fashioned fell to Li Jian but the man who’d been such a pivotal figure in Guangdong Sunray Cave’s third place finish in China League One wasted the opportunity.
As stoppage time approached the game appeared destined for a draw but great interplay between three Guangdong substitutes changed that. A brilliant run from Cai Jingyaun started it before he passed to Lu Lin who flicked wide for Yang Jian to cross for his club colleague Cai at the back post who in turn centered the ball and Lu provided the finish.
There was still time for Hong Kong to reply because of all the substitutions but Michael Luk’s shot whistled over the bar and another header was just beyond the far post as the youthful Guangdong side held out against their more experienced opponents. The second leg will be at the Olympic Stadium in Meizhou on New Years Day with kick-off at 3pm.
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