AFC Champions League 2017

Eastern coach Chan Yuen-ting proud of players after defeat by Suwon in AFC Champions League

The Hong Kong side lose 1-0 at home but turn in a battling performance against stronger South Korean opponents

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 10:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 11:19pm

Hong Kong champions Eastern turned in a brave performance but fell 1-0 at home to a late goal against South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday night at Mong Kok Stadium.

Two second-half substitutes, Yeom Ki-hun and Brazilian Johnathan – possibly Suwon’s best players from Suwon – combined to give the Korean side victory with 12 minutes left. South Korea international Yeom crossed from the right and Johnathan was free to head home from close range.

The difference in standards between the two teams were clear throughout the contest but Chan Yuen-ting’s men battled hard and frustrated Suwon for much of the game.

Eastern suffered their second defeat in group G, having lost 7-0 to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande before earning a 1-1 draw at home with Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale.

“Apart from the goal, we played to a very high standard,” said Eastern coach Chan Yuen-ting, the first woman ever to manage a team in the competition. “We didn’t play too badly. When we play our next game, we would have three matches experience in this competition and hopefully we will perform better.”

Eastern player Tse Man-wing added: “We created a few chances and were unlucky not score, but overall we have to be really satisfied with our performance. Jaimes McKee had a great chance but couldn’t score.

“We made a hash of things when they scored, but apart from that we played really well. Hopefully we can be better in the next game.”

It was Suwon’s first victory of the tournament after draws against Kawasaki and Guangzhou. Suwon coach Seo Jung-won said bringing on the two substitutes, who were subequently involved in the goal, was tactical move.

“We had some problems with their physical condition after playing in the domestic competition over the weekend but the duo proved their ability to help us win this game,” said Seo.

Eastern – without two of their best players Manuel Bleda and Diego Eli owing to injury – were second-best but still a constant threat from the set-pieces of Bai He and troubled Suwon a number of times from corners.

Jaimes McKee, having to work hard on his own because of Bleda’s absence, had Eastern’s best chance just minutes before Suwon scored, but his effort was blocked by a last-ditch tackle.

Suwon’s Damir Saovic, who was MVP for the match, said: “It was not an easy game as Eastern played a very compact game.”

In the group’s other match, Guangzhou Evergrande were held to a 1-1 draw in China after a last-minute goal from Kawasaki Frontale. Guangzhou and Suwon have five points from three games, Kawasaki are on three while Eastern have one.

Eastern travel to Korea on April 12 to face Suwon in the return match.