High-flying Pegasus shoot down Kitchee
TSW Pegasus coach Chan Hiu-ming has warned his players against complacency after they defeated champions Kitchee 2-1 with a last-gasp goal in a thrilling BMA First Division clash yesterday.
Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng was the culprit of the day as his own goal in injury time cheered the 2,300 home fans at Yuen Long Stadium. With the match heading for a draw, the former mainlander punched in a Leandro Silva cross in the dying seconds to give Pegasus the victory and a move to the top of the table.
Pegasus, chasing their first league crown since the team were set up four years ago, celebrated the victory as if they had already won the title.
They now lead the standings on 27 points, one ahead of Kitchee but Pegasus also have a game in hand. South China are in third place on 23 points.
'The three points won against Kitchee carry the same importance as beating one of the weaker teams,' Pegasus coach Chan Hiu-ming said. 'Every victory is important if we are to win our first league title.
'The players have every reason to celebrate this hard-earned victory. But they must get on with their lives tomorrow and start preparing for the next game. There are seven matches left and if we can win the next six in a row, we will be crowned the champions. Our future is on our own hands.'
Chan admitted the result came with a bit luck. 'Our two goals were a bit fortunate and in fact we did not play very well in the first half.
'We brought in Godfred Karikari up front after the break and were able to gain back possession of the ball as Kitchee broke down under our pressure. The game plan worked very well.'
Spanish striker Yago Gonzalez put Kitchee ahead in a closely contested first half, tapping home a timely cross from Chan Man-fai. Chan then came close to adding to the tally, firing from 20 metres out, but his shot was tipped off the bar by Pegasus goalkeeper Hisanori Takada.
But Pegasus soon levelled the score in the opening stages of the second half. Eugene Mbome's weak drive from outside the box came with little danger, but it took a deflection off Fernando Recio to beat the goalkeeper.
Pegasus had most of the possession afterwards as they knew a victory would further strengthen their title hopes, but they found it hard to break down the Kitchee defence. And against the run of play, Liang Zicheng should have scored for Kitchee, but his close-range shot went high over the crossbar.
Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin refused to blame his goalkeeper for the defeat, saying all his players worked throughout the match.
'There is no problem with our defence,' he said. 'We lost the first goal because of a deflection and the second goal was not the responsibility of the goalkeeper. Maybe he had difficulty seeing the ball clearly under the floodlights. In the end, it was a matter of luck.'
'We have now played Pegasus four times this season [including cup ties] and every time the difference has been a single goal. It proves how close the two sides are.'
Ng admitted the result was a blow to their hopes of retaining the league title. 'You can't win every season,' he said. 'Nonetheless, it is still too early to talk about the title. We must now beat South China to see how things go. We will take it match by match.'
In yesterday's earlier match, Sham Shui Po held home side Tuen Mun to a goalless draw to earn only their second point of the season. The result, however, moved them off the bottom of the table as they are now one place ahead of Hong Kong Sapling thanks to a better goal difference.
'We are still working hard for our first win of the season,' coach Lee Chi-kin said. 'We're trying to dwell on the likelihood of being relegated.'
The number of titles TSW Pegasus have won since being formed four years ago - one Senior Shield and one FA Cup