City outclass South China as Vertonghen injured in soggy Spurs defeat

Follow all the action live from Hong Kong Stadium as Tottenham Hotspur take on Sunderland and Manchester City face South China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 July, 2013, 1:16am

11pm Okay folks, we'll call it a night at that. Tune in again from 5pm on Saturday for day 2 of the tournament, when South China will take on sister club Tottenham Hotspur in the third-place play-off and Sunderland and Manchester City will compete for the trophy. Buy the SCMP tomorrow for in-depth analysis from day one.

South China midfielder Joel Bertoti Padilha on one of the biggest games he will have played in:

"It was difficult, we tried our best, we normally play more attacking in the Hong Kong league. Manchester City have some of the best players in the world. I think this is the best game, every player wants to play games like this in front of a full house. 

"We tried to play very deep, not give them much space. We tried to keep them out of our box, but they have a very good organisation and their movement was very difficult for us. But I think we made it a good game. 


Coach Cheung Po Chun says he learned a lot from facing City and adds:

"Every coach is not happy if the team loses but in terms of the one-goal margin and in terms of pre-season time I'm quite happy with  the performance today. They showed the crowd South China is playing with discipline and this is the most important thing.


Manuel Pellegrini and Edin Dzeko have just been in. Pellegrini says "I think so" when asked if his squad is the strongest in the league. Some more reaction: 


"I think the game was very useful for us; before the match I had some doubts we could play but we played normally with no problems.

I know Negredo very well from Spanish league, it was no surprise the way he played today. We have very good strikers and I think it’s necessary if you want to play in the Premier League and Champions League

"I just think that we didn’t play against South China we played against us. We improved from South Africa if we drew or lost it’s not so important. We scored one goal but we’ve got a lot of work to do 

"I think a big club like City always has a lot of pressure, it’s important to play under pressure and I think the players play better under pressure."

Edin Dzeko:
"It was nice to play here, the stadium was almost full the fans were happy after these two games. Only the pitch was a little bit bad but after raining all day it’s normal

"It’s not my decision [who plays up front] it’s the managers but we have now four top strikers and everyone wants to play and for strikers it’s easeier when he’s got players around him like our other strikers."


Right, I'm heading downstairs for the post-match pressers. Tune in here shortly for reaction from Pellegrini and South China.

FULL TIME MANCHESTER CITY 1 SOUTH CHINA 0 And that's it. Very comfortable for City. They will play Sunderland in Saturday's final. Let's hope the rain stays off over the next few days ... but it's not looking good

75min Negredo muscles off two South China defenders and cuts the ball across goal, but South China manage to clear. Micah Richards and Scott Sinclair on for Zabaleta and Dzeko. Wee lull in the not-much-action as Richards gets a knock in the face almost instantly

72min Not an awful lot of action happening here, hence the lack of updates. Man City have had a couple of corners but done nothing with them, South China keep giving the ball away whenever they get it. City playing within themselves, you feel - either that or they're very poor

64min Brilliant save from Zhang Chunhui to deny Edin Dzeko. Superb outside-of-boot cross from Negredo, who was close earlier with an acrobatic scissors kick. Supposedly not quite fit, but he looks class. Javi Garcia replaces Fernandinho, who has been a bit anonymous in the half I've seen.

59min City have a couple of opportunities, South China heading clear with Negredo lurking at back post, then Milner shrugs off a couple of challenges but his cross goes over the Spaniard's head 

56min Another of City's new boys, Alvaro Negredo, comes on for Yaya Toure. Rodwell replaces Barry

52min Closest South China have come, after more good work from Dhiego on the right. Fernandinho eventually gets ball clear from under his own crossbar. Samir Nasri booed every time he touches the ball - I've no idea why.

Meanwhile, Britain's Daily Mail is suitably contemptuous of HK pitch. Embarrassing

45min Lively start from South China, though their Chinese players look like schoolboys up against the behemoth Yaya Toure. Dhiego de Souza Martins looking dangerous on the right, City have had to hurriedly clear a couple of dangerous crosses. Huge cheers for South China here.

Manchester City 1 South China 0 Second half underway. Kolarov replaces Clichy for City, Dhiego de Souza Martins is on for South China

Paolo Di Canio on the fit-again Wes Brown, goalscorer and man-of-the-match in Sunderland's 3-1 win over Spurs earlier: 

"I have to clarify one point which is crucial I was clear with him a few days ago. When they asked me if I wanted Brown back I said if he’s not fit he can’t play in a  team that has to rebuild. We had a conversation with him, with his strong character he said, 'I'm a footballer, I want to stay here, I want to prove it'.

"I didn’t speak to him for seven, eight days I wanted to  test him. He was the perfect professional you can have in a squad. He didn’t stop one minute in training, my preseason is very tough, without moaning, without saying anything, pushing the others. After a few days I had a chat I was very happy to tell him 'You're part of my squad.'

"That proves what kind of staff I have because for one year he couldn’t even train. Always after 20 minutes he had a problem, 'I can't run'. Now he’s gone 30 days without any problem. I keep my fingers crossed but that proves what quality of character he’s got and the qualifty of my technical staff."



Apologies for the lengthy absence. Had to go to Sunderland and Spurs press conferences and file story for the paper.

Andre Villas-Boas is not a happy man, understandably blaming the Hong Kong Stadium swamp - sorry pitch - for Jan Vertonghen's injury. It looks like the defender has damaged his ankle ligaments, though it will require an MRI before the full extent of the injury is known. Villas-Boas is hoping he makes it back in time for the start of the season. It is believed Tottenham - who apparently have their own groundsman here - didn't want the game to be played.

AVB also refused to answer questions on Gareth Bale's future, with Marca reporting that he has asked to leave.

Meanwhile, it's half-time in Man City v South China, with City leading 1-0 through Yaya Toure  Edin Dzeko. More than that I don't know because I didn't see any of it.


Next up it's Man City v South China in half an hour. I'm going to run downstairs for the Spurs and Sunderland press conferences. Hopefully will be back in time for start of next game, tune back in at 8.40pm



79min Tottenham 1 SUNDERLAND 3 Sunderland seal the win after Sessegnon hooks a ball over his shoulder - and the Spurs defence - for Moberg Karlsson to run on to. He finishes calmly left footed. Well deserved Sunderland, they will play Man City or South China in Saturday's final. 

76min Andros Townsend breaks free from midfield, but with options on - 5 on 3 for Spurs - he dithers on the ball and is dispossessed. Should have done much better. Valentin Roberge replaces Wes Brown for Sunderland, Brown receiving big cheers from Hong Kong crowd (for some reason). Giacherinni replaced by James McClean 

City team is in, strong line up, only one new signing, Fernandinho.

Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany (C), Clichy; Toure, Barry; Milner, Fernandinho, Nasri; Dzeko 

70min Altidore's not having a good day. Long ball from defence sets Sessegnon clear and he puts Altidore free with only Friedel to beat from about 10metres. His shot goes off Friedel's boot and behind though. American striker could - perhaps should - have had a hat trick today. He's then replaced by Connor Wickham

Subs for Spurs

Tom Carroll for Huddlestone

Andros Townsend for Clint Dempsey

Ten minutes left for Spurs to equalise and force penalty shootout

64min Tottenham 1 SUNDERLAND 2 Great play from Sessegnon on right, his cross is headed behind by Dawson. From the corner, Wes Brown heads in at the back post. Spurs claim he fouled his marker, who I think was Fryers, but referee gives it

60min Former Arsenal keeper Mannone is keeping Spurs at bay here. Great stop to deny Defoe from 10 metres out after Danny Rose found him with a cross from the left. 

Big screen just showed close-up of some huge divots on the pitch to chuckles from fans behind me. 

Subs for Sunderland:

David Moberg Karlsson for Johnson

El-Hadji Ba for Larsson


These fans might have picked the wrong match


55min Great move from Spurs, Defoe switching play wide to Dempsey, who finds Adebayor. He tries to bend one in from left side of area, Mannone pulls off a great save. Adebayor then lets fly with a couple more, one blocked and one over. Much better game now

50min Vertonghen doesn't last long, stretchered off after lengthy treatment with an injury. Ezekiel Fryers replaces him. Altidore then has another good chance after Kyle Walker tries to be clever instead of clearing his lines. The American striker turns well with four men around him but drags his shot wide.

Second half underway, I'm having connection nightmares. Altidore should have immediately put Sunderland ahead, but fresh-air shot from six yards. 

Subs for Spurs: Friedel for Gomes, Defoe for Lennon, Vertonghen for Caulker

HT Tottenham 1 Sunderland 1 And the whistle goes at 40 minutes in this abbreviated match. Larsson came close with a free-kick for Sunderland, forcing Gomes to save. Draw fair reflection, Sunderland perhaps slightly better overall. Some of Di Canio's new signings look lively. Few folk out with forks again to try to save what's left of the pitch

33min Tottenham 1 SUNDERLAND 1 WiFi here is a disaster, apologies for slow updates. Cabral equalises for Sunderland, one of Di Canio's new signings. Flick on from another, Altidore, and Cabral runs on and sidefoots past Gomes with his right. Nice finish


Bit unlucky on Sunderland, who have been just about the better team. Neither side looking too sharp, pitch cutting up badly which probably isn't helping. Looks like it'll be in a right state for City v South China, assuming it goes ahead as planned. (Have heard nothing to suggest it won't).

27min TOTTENHAM 1 Sunderland 0 Great cut back from Walker on the right wing to Sigurdsson on the penalty spot. His shot seemed to take a slight deflection to wrongfoot Mannone

6.45pm Sorry for lack of updates, few problems with the WiFi here. Rain is bucketing down again. Sunderland have had the better of the opening, with Sessegnon and new boy Giaccherini looking lively. Spurs v sloppy so far

Spurs are lining up 4-3-3:


Walker Dawson Caulker Rose

Parker Huddlestone Sigurdsson

Lennon Adebayor Dempsey


Sunderland 4-4-2


Gardner O'Shea Brown Colback

Johnson Cabral Larsson Giacherrini

Sessegnon Altidore

6.30pm Finally we're underway. Both teams in their new home strips. Let's see how quickly this pitch becomes a swamp


6.20pm Boos ring out as stadium announcer delivers news of change of schedule. As well they might. Not really sure that waiting half an hour is going to magically fix pitch. FINALLY there are people - a mighty poncho-wearing army of five - messing about with forks. Burly original forker back out too. Every little helps I suppose. 

At least the rain seems to have stopped, or at least considerably lessened. 

Rather embarrassing for Hong Kong Football Association, though not a lot they can do about the weather to be fair. Just underlines, yet again, that HK Stadium is rapidly becoming unfit for purpose. Not that the government cares of course, as evidenced by continued stalling on Sports Hub (the stadium of which would have a retractable roof)


6.05pm Five minutes past kick-off time and no sign of teams. 'Let Me Entertain You' blasts out of PA. Maybe 37,000-odd Hong Kong football fans are demanding just that, but understandable if teams don't fancy playing on soaking pitch. 

Never fear, one burly man with a pitchfork is wandering fairly aimlessly around, sure he'll have it sorted soon.

Just heard we will start at 6.30 and each match will last 80 minutes


5.50pm Officials don't look happy with the pitch here. Ball not rolling well. Six or seven folk under an umbrella in talks near centre circle. Surely we couldn't have a cancellation? Maybe a delayed kick-off? Rain is blowing into the covered press box, those in the open North and South Stands getting soaked - those who forgot their brollies at least. Stadium looks barely half-full with 10 minutes to kick-off.


5.40pm Rain absolutely hammering down now as the stadium slowly starts to fill. British press amazed at the heat, while having been in HK for a few years now, it feels like quite a pleasant balmy evening. Interesting to see how the players cope though. 20 mins til kickoff. If the scores are level after 90 minutes, straight to penalty shootout.


5.26pm So three of Sunderland's plethora of new signings - Mannone, Cabral, Altidore and Giaccherini start, with four more on the bench (Mandron, Karlsson, Roberge, Ba). First chance to see how Paolo Di Canio's efforts to revamp his squad are shaping up. 

No Gareth Bale for Spurs - manager Andre Villas-Boas said yesterday he's carrying a slight knock that will keep him out until Saturday's game - while new signing Paulinho has his feet up somewhere having been given time off after the Confederations Cup.

Meanwhile, Spurs are out on the pitch warming up, no sign of Sunderland yet. Umbrellas are out in the North and South Stands as the rain descends. HK Stadium pitch, as ever, isn't looking great and it'll be interesting to see how it holds up.


Hi and welcome to the SCMP's live blog of the Barclays Asia Trophy. It's just over an hour until the first game kicks off here, Tottenham v Sunderland, and fans are starting to file into HK Stadium on a damp and grey afternoon. 

Sunderland's team:  Mannone; Brown, Cabral, Gardner, O'Shea; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, Sessegnon,  Giaccherini; Altidore

Subs - Westwood, Wickham, Vaughhan, Mandron, Karlsson, Ba, McClean, Cuellar, Roberge

Here's the Spurs team from @spursofficial: