Kitchee coup - local heroes humble Juve
Kitchee striker Keith Gumbs stole the show from his famous opposite number as the unheralded local club beat Italian champions Juventus 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw at the end of 90 minutes during last night's enthralling Grand Promenade Cup.
Just when Juventus thought they had done just enough to win, Gumbs popped up with a brace of goals to send the match to a penalty shootout at Hong Kong Stadium.
It was a performance that outshone that of Italian superstar striker Alessandro Del Piero and one the former Happy Valley striker will remember for the rest of his life.
Not only did Gumbs score both of Kitchee's goals, he was also successful from the penalty spot as the recently crowned Italian Serie A champions were humbled in the second match of their Asian tour.
Juventus had defeated Yokohama F-Marinos on Wednesday, but the Italians were pegged back at 2-2 after leading 2-0 at half-time.
Kitchee were on target with all five spot-kicks, while Juve defender Alessandro Birindelli slammed his effort sail over the bar. Former China captain Fan Zhiyi, a guest player for Kitchee, sealed victory for the locals by scoring Kitchee's fifth penalty.
But the real hero was Gumbs, who was delighted to have played and scored against 'one of the world's greatest clubs'.
'To play against Juventus was a dream. To score against them was a bonus,' said Gumbs. 'I dreamt about this match for a long time. I couldn't even sleep last night thinking about it. It was the biggest match of my career. No words can describe how I feel right now,' he said.
Juventus coach Fabio Capello said his team deserved more from the game, adding his charges were unlucky in the penalty shootout.
'I'm disappointed with the final result. I think Juventus were the real winners on the pitch, but we didn't get the result in the end.
'Kitchee's goalkeeper [Xiao Guoji] should have been sent off, but it was an exhibition game,' said Capello, referring to a first-half incident when Xiao tripped Juve midfielder Olivier Kapo on the edge of the area, but was only cautioned.
'Even though we have lost, this is good for football,' said Capello 'We will prepare for our next match [against FC Tokyo] with the same intensity.
'Hopefully, we will get a better result,' said the Italian coach.
Del Piero showed his class when he scored the opening goal in the 20th minute after chasing down a long ball played from well inside Juventus's half.
The Italian marksman beat the offside trap before smashing a left-footed drive that flew into the top of the net.
He turned provider in the 43rd minute when he floated a lovely ball across on the right to Nedved whose strike first struck the ground before looping over the head of Xiao.
Kitchee pulled a goal back six minutes after the interval thanks to Gumbs's close-range header from a Clodoaldo de Oliveira free kick.
The local side's defence held firm despite a Juventus onslaught late in the second half with Fan taking the captain's arm-band from Fung Ka-ki in the 66th minute and doing a commendable job in the heart of Kitchee's defence.
The ever-dangerous Nedved had two clear-cut chances to add to his tally but was denied by a resolute Kitchee defence before Gumbs struck again, beating substitute goalkeeper Landry Bonnefoi with a stunning lob from 15 metres.