Grateful South China take advantage of Golden gifts
TWO defensive blunders by Golden gifted South China a priceless 2-1 victory as the Caroliners nudged two points ahead of rivals Happy Valley in the championship phase of the Ericsson First Division last night.
Golden coach Cheung Chi-tak was left fuming at Siu Sai Wan Stadium after critical mistakes by Olympic defender Lau Chi-keung and Russian goalkeeper Victor Derbounov allowed South China to steal victory and lead the standings for the first time this year.
In an otherwise scrappy affair, South China created few chances, especially after Hong Kong Footballer of the Year Ricky Cheng Siu-chung limped off with a strained thigh in the 30th minute.
Golden conceded the first goal when Lau headed the ball into his own net while trying to clear a Lee Kin-wo cross in the 37th minute.
The comedy of errors continued when Derbounov failed to keep out a Chan Chi-hong cross two minutes after the break, watching helplessly as the ball spun out of his hands and flew into the net.
That second blunder cancelled out Golden's equaliser, which came when former South China midfielder Leslie Santos scored from the penalty spot after Shum Kwok-pui was adjudged to have handled in the box in the 42nd minute.
Cheung was left to ponder what might have been, claiming his team could have at least pinched a point.
'It's particularly upsetting when you lose a match because of blunders but that's soccer for you. South China rarely created chances.
'I don't even think they had one decent shot on goal. If we didn't concede that second goal, we would have had a chance to scoop at least a point,' he said.
'We came back at them a few times and created a few chances but we didn't have the luck. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and South China seem to have had all the luck tonight.' South China team director Peter Leung Shou-chi said his team were left with fewer attacking options after Cheng was replaced by youngster Lee Sze-ming.
'We had planned to use two strikers with Au and Cheng out front but we were left trying to control the midfield. We had the luck but it doesn't mean that we didn't work hard,' said Leung.
Earlier, Sing Tao defeated relegation-threatened Rangers 3-1 to ease their own relegation worries.
Sing Tao had Chinese midfielder Sung Linyung (56th minute), Croatian forward Zeljko Gavrilovic (61st minute), and defender Leung Shing-kit, who scored from the penalty spot after Rangers defender Lee Wai-tak brought down Gavrilovic in the 67th minute, to thank for the points.
Rangers midfielder Wong Chun-yue scored a consolation goal in the 85th minute.