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AFC Champions League

Kitchee’s first-ever Champions League victory could be just around the corner after narrow loss to Kashiwa Reysol

Junya Ito scores to sink Chu Chi-kwong’s side while Ricardo Goulart fires Guangzhou Evergrande to epic comeback victory

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2018, 10:36pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2018, 9:25am

Kitchee may have lost their third match in as many attempts in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday night, but they went down fighting in a 1-0 loss to Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol.

Chu Chi-kwong’s side fought hard throughout and it was only Junya Ito’s tap-in from close range in the 66th minute that separated the sides – although Kashiwa did have their chances to double the margin late in proceedings.

The result was an improvement on Kitchee’s 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in their last Champions League outing at Hong Kong Stadium two weeks ago.

Watch: highlights of Kitchee v Kashiwa Reysol

It will give them confidence ahead of the return leg against Kashiwa in Hong Kong on March 14 and raises hope that the side’s first ever win in the competition might be within reach.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in pole position after cruising past Kitchee in AFC Champions League drubbing

“Even though it was an away game, my boys did a good job, battling hard throughout 90 minutes. We made one mistake and were severely punished,” Chu said.

“But I won’t lose confidence in my players as the home side are very strong. The home team gave us a lot of pressure but my players played smartly, trying to find more room for both attack and defence.

“An away game is always difficult – the venue, the weather – and that’s why we have to play defensively.

“[Diego] Forlan is a good player. He used the ball well, he read the game well and helped the team a lot. But the game is 90 minutes and after going down 1-0, we tried to bring in some fresh players and it is normal to make substitutions”

In the group’s other game Jeonbuk beat Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian 6-3.

Also on Tuesday, Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande ensured their fans spent the night on the edge of their seats, falling behind 2-0 against Jeju United before steaming home to win 5-3 on the back of four second-half goals from Ricardo Goulart.