AFC CUP – Round 2
Kitchee 2 Recio Fernando’29
Juan Carlos Belencoso’43
Pune FC (India) 2 Pavlovic’55
Hong Kong league leaders Kitchee threw away a golden opportunity to strengthen their grip on group H of the Asian Football Confederation’s AFC Cup after surrendering a two goal lead to Pune FC of India.
On home turf and in front of a raucous crowd, Kitchee dominated proceedings from the start and overran their Indian opponents from the outset. Players were sliding and falling needlessly as both sides had to adapt to the slippery Mong Kok stadium surface which was still wet due to light rain which continued for the entire game.
With the majority of the possession, Kitchee held the ball with their pin point passing game and created a series of early opportunities. Inevitably, Kitchee took the lead through Recio Fernando in the 29th minute and doubled this on the 43rd minute mark with a great header by Juan Carlos Belencoso. Pune FC were all at sea and as the teams left the field for half time, the game it seemed, was all wrapped up.
However, complacency crept into Kitchee’s game and they seemingly took their foot off the gas and sat back and were happy to defend their lead. This invited Pune to attack and they exploited the spaces which opened up. Pune pulled one back on the 55th minute with an effort jabbed in by Pavlovic. Gabriel Fernandes scored the equalizer in the 74th minute and what seemed a straight forward win for the home side was now slipping away.
The Pune equalizer spurred Kitchee into action and they regained their shape and composure to relentlessly attack. Great wing play by Lam Ka Wai saw Kitchee have a plethora of chances in the last ten minutes as Kitchee laid siege to the Pune goal. Pune’s goalkeeper, Amrinder, pulled off spectacular saves to stop two long distance efforts. Pune held on and were clearly delighted to take a point. Kitchee’s players and management know that they dropped two vital points to much weaker opposition. After two games, Kitchee still lead group H ahead of Nay Pyi Taw of Myanmar on goal difference.
Christopher KL Lau is the Hong Kong Correspondent for Wildeast Football. He has figured out twitter and can be found here: https://twitter.com/Chris_KL_Lau
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