Au's double helps Caroliners into semis

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 April, 2006, 12:00am

Veteran striker Au Wai-lun missed a hat-trick for South China but the Caroliners still went through to the semi-finals of the Lanwa International FA Cup after edging out HK08 3-2 at Mongkok Stadium yesterday.

They will meet Happy Valley for a place in the final after Valley beat Buler Rangers in a penalty shootout after the sides were locked at 1-1 after extra time. Wu Jun of Rangers missed from the spot, but all five Valley players found the target in the sudden-death ritual.

The 34-year-old Au scored twice in the first half (18, 34) to give South China a comfortable lead against relegation-bound HK08. But HK08, who had not scored more than one goal in a match before yesterday's game, hit back twice in the second period through Chan Man-fai (70th) and Cheng Lai-hin (76th) to level the scores.

Just when the tie seemed head for extra time, Au was brought down inside the penalty box in the 85th minute and referee Ng Chiu-kok awarded South China a penalty kick. Au, who had recovered from the tackle, went up to take the spot kick, but was stopped by the referee. Teammate Chan Chi-hong then took over the job and scored for South China to go through.

'The referee said I had been taken care of by medical staff on the pitch and, according to the rules, I had to leave the pitch before the match resumed,' said a disappointed Au.

'I had no other choice but to leave and let Chan take the penalty kick.'

Despite missing a hat-trick, Au was still happy with reaching the semi-finals. But their prime target remains their final game in the league, in which they need to beat Citizen to avoid relegation.

The team management has already offered South China players a $100,000 incentive for the victory.

Rangers, meanwhile, missed a place in the semi-finals due to a defensive blunder in first-half stoppage time. They were leading 1-0 when a misunderstanding between goalkeeper Cheung Wai-hong and skipper Fan Zhiyi cost them dearly, allowing Evanor Fantin to head home the equaliser from close range following a Poon Yiu-cheuk cross.

Fofo Agbo opened the scoring for Rangers in the 26th minute. An excellent effort by Godfred Karikari from the right was denied by goalkeeper Fan Chun-yip and Agbo had an easy task of picking up the ball to score into the open goal.

Neither side looked impressive after battling hard in the first half in the heat.

Meanwhile, Xiangxue Sun Hei hope to beat Kitchee in another FA Cup first-round match at Mongkok Stadium today and put some shine on an otherwise disastrous season.

Sun Hei, who made a clean sweep of all four major titles last season, only have the FA Cup to save their pride after failing in all other competitions.

The double header features another first-round FA Cup match between Citizen and Lanwa.