Eastern Salon clinch dramatic Cup win over Kitchee with last-gasp goal
Da Silva scores a last-gasp goal to stun champs Kitchee in FA Cup final
Eastern Salon saved their best for last, stunning league champions Kitchee to clinch the FA Cup at Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday.
A last-minute header in extra time by marksman Giovane da Silva made the difference as Eastern lifted the last trophy of the season with a 1-0 victory in front of a 4,000-strong crowd.
Captain Leung Chi-wing, previously with Kitchee, crossed from the left and connected well with Da Silva's head.
It was a remarkable triumph for two-time Hong Kong player of the year Cristiano Cordeiro in his first year as coach of the underdogs.
The result not only handed Eastern players a winning bonus of HK$1 million and an overseas trip for all their players in the close season, it also prevented Kitchee from making it a record three FA Cup wins in a row. No team have captured the competition three times in a row since its inception in 1974.
A jubilant Da Silva said he had scored possibly the goal of his career, which was his 17th for the season. "This is the most important goal I have scored in Hong Kong," said the Brazilian. "I have never scored a winning goal like this. It was a very special moment. No one would believe in us after we lost a league game to Yuen Long last week, but the coach told us to forget everything and focus only on this cup final. We played as if it was the last match of our lives and in the end we did it."
As cup winners, Eastern sneak back into the Play Off Cup and will take on Royal Southern following a draw made yesterday. The other match will feature South China and Sun Pegasus. The two winners will then meet to decide the second Hong Kong representative in the 2015 AFC Cup, joining champions Kitchee.
Da Silva is now full of confidence for the Play Off Cup. "It's just two more matches and we can make it to the AFC Cup," he said. "It's not going to be easy but if we can beat Kitchee, we can finish the season well by producing another great result."
On a hot and humid afternoon, neither side was able to raise the standard of play to great heights. Kitchee were nowhere near the level that saw them advance to the AFC Cup quarter-finals in beating Arema of Indonesia in midweek.
In stoppage time in the regulation 90 minutes, Manoel Silva missed a close-range chance to kill off the match for Eastern. Just before Silva's golden chance, Kitchee went down to 10 men as Juan Belencoso was sent off for a second booking.
Still, neither side looked like winners when the match was extended for 30 minutes of extra time. Just when it seemed to be heading towards a penalty shoot-out, Da Silva gave Eastern a perfect ending as Kitchee recorded only their second loss of the season after their defeat by BC Rangers in the Senior Shield.