Chan's blunder in goal costs Sun Hei victory
Defending champions Happy Valley earned a point after a 1-1 draw against arch-rivals Xiangxue Sun Hei in the opening First Division match of the season at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.
A lapse of concentration cost Sun Hei when goalkeeper Domingos Chan failed to punch the ball away from a corner kick in the 75th minute. Evanor Fantin's header hit the crossbar and the ball fell near second-half substitute Feng Jizhi, who booted it into the net from close range.
Two minutes earlier, Sun Hei had opened the scoring through a penalty kick from Fladimir Freitas, putting them in a strong position to take all three points. Up to that stage, neither side had looked capable of finding the net.
Marcio Anacleto broke down the centre of the pitch but was brought down by Valley's Gerard Ambassa Guy.
Referee Fung Ka-yu had little hesitation in awarding Sun Hei a spot kick, which was converted by the Brazilian midfielder.
Valley had striker Fabio Alcantara sent off in the 82nd minute for a second yellow card, but Sun Hei were unable to take advantage. Both sides played too defensively.
'We did not play very well in the first half as the team played too deep, from up front to defence,' said Ricardo Rambo, who took charge of his first match for Valley after replacing Wong Yiu-shun as the new player-coach.
'The second half was much better and even though we conceded a goal first, we scored a quick equaliser. I was impressed by the players' fighting spirit, especially when we were down to 10 men in the final stages.
'This was the first match for both teams and one could not expect the players to be at top form at such an early stage of the season. I am not too disappointed with the result.'
The coach also paid tribute to their new signing, striker Vitor Manique de Jesus, saying the Brazilian had shown good skills, although the player should have passed the ball more in the first half.
Sun Hei coach Koo Luam Khen was happy to earn a point, saying it was early days yet.
Commenting on Chan's blunder, he said the goalkeeper had not played in many pre-season games and was a touch rusty.
'He is a good player. He did not feature too much in the pre-season, but he is worth his place in the starting line-up because of his experience,' said Koo.