AFC Champions League 2017

RECAP: Agonising defeat for Hong Kong's Eastern as they go down 1-0 to Suwon in Champions League

Hong Kong champions battle valiantly but are edged out by Korean side at Mong Kok Stadium

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 12:04am

FULL-TIME - Eastern 0 Suwon Bluewings 1

Hong Kong champions Eastern were desperately unlucky not to take something from their third ever Asian Champions League match, edged out 1-0 by a late goal from Suwon Bluewings of South Korea.

Though clearly not at the same level as their opponents, Chan Yuen-ting's men battled terrifically, frustrating Suwon for much of the game.

But key players Yeom Ki-hun and Johnathan, both of whom had been rested from the starting line-up by Suwon manager Seo Jung-won, came off the bench in the second half to combine for the only goal, top assist-maker Yeom whipping in a ball from the right wing that the Brazilian headed in in the 77th minute. He looked narrowly offside, though it was impossible to tell without seeing a replay.

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

Tse Man-wing added" "We created a few chances and unlucky not score, overall we have to be really satisfied with our performance. 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."

Eastern – without two of their best players Manuel Bleda and Diego Eli due 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 without making any count.

Jaimes McKee, plowing a thankless lone furrow up front in Bleda's absence, had Eastern's best chance just minutes before Suwon scored, but his effort was blocked by a last-ditch tackle.

 

In the group's other game, Guangzhou Evergrande were held to a 1-1 draw in China after a last-minute goal from Kawasaki Frontale. They have five points from three games, Suwon also five, Kawasaki three and Eastern one.

Next up for Eastern is a trip to Korea on April 12.

90min

Eastern win a corner off another Bai He free-kick – a familiar phrase tonight – and Yapp Hung-fai comes out of goal to get involved. Not sure why, since he's not the biggest goalkeeper. 

Suwon clear the first effort but Eastern win the second ball and flight it back in and Cheng Siu-wai fails to connect with an acroabtic bicycle kick.

That's the final whistle, and a few of Suwon's players sink to their knees in exhaustion, gratitude or prayer. Very valiant display from Eastern, who are unlucky not to get something from the game

89min

Eastern get another long-distance free-kick into the box, but it's headed wide and that's surely their last chance. 4 mins stoppage time though ..

86min

Two subs for Eastern Cheng Siu-wai and Tsang Chi-hau coming on. 

Cho goes in the book for a late tackle and Bai has another chance to whip in a delivery that Suwon just about get clear. 

It comes back in though and Lee Hong-lim gets a whot away, but it's blocked by a Suwon leg

The Koreans break, 3 v 1 on Wong Tsz-ho alone at the back, but he manages to get a foot in to prevent a killer second goal

 

82min

Corner to Eastern after another long-range Bai He free-kick is nodded out. His  set-pieces have been Eastern's best hope all night. Corner creates some uncertainty, but Suwon clear. 

Suwon's Choi goes down seemingly with cramp much to the disgust of nearly 6,000 none-too-sympathetic fans who reckon he's timewasting.

Tse Man-wing points to an imaginary watch to remind the ref to add time on as Choi is stretchered off. Suwon will have to play the rest of the game with 10 men if he can't recover – a glimmer of hope for Eastern

77min - GOAL SUWON!!

Aaargh. As feared, Suwon's dangermen have likely sealed the win off the bench. After a couple of corners, Yeom finds space out wide and whips in a cross that Johnathan nods in. It's a familiar combination for Suwon – and surely spells the end of Eastern's brave resistance.

71min - EVEN CLOSER!

McKee breaks away and slips the ball to Cheng King-ho on the right, who picks out his teammate with the return pass 12 yards out. It opens up perfectly for McKee, but Cho Won-hee slides in to block what looked a certain goal. 

Can Eastern nick this?

68min - CLOSE!

Eastern get the fans on their feet by stringing a few passes together on the break and Tse Man-wing wins a corner. 

The first effort is headed over for another one and Lee Hong-lim is unlucky not to score. Both sides claiming a handball or a foul but the ref signals for a third corner, which this time Suwon get clear. 

63min

A rare attack from Eastern! They manage to keep the ball for more than two passes and Lee Hong-lim tries his luck from 25 yards out. Well over the bar though. 

Two-thirds of the game gone and it's mission accomplished so far for Eastern, but can they continue to hold out? 

 

61min 

Wing-back Kim Minwoo off injured, so Suwon have used all their subs. Lee Yongrae replaces him

58min 

Suwon's manager decides he's had enough and brings on his two star men, Brazilian striker Johnathan and playmaker Yeom Ki-hun. Will they make the difference?

 

55min

Eastern win a free-kick in Suwon's half and Bai He's delivery is headed over for Eastern's first corner. Suwon head clear and Tsang Kam-to tries a spectacular volley that he completely muffs

Suwon break up the pitch and Choi Sungguen tries his luck from range, narrowly wide

51min

It's been all Suwon to start the second half and they win a free-kick in a dangerous position on the corner of Eastern's box. Yapp collects the ball calmly though.

Terrific atmosphere at the tight Mong Kok ground, with Eastern's drummers showing no signs of tiring

46min

Suwon straight on the attack to start the second half and Kim Minwoo heads narrowly wide from a corner

HALF-TIME - EASTERN 0 SUWON BLUEWINGS 0

Eastern finish the half with the closest they've come to a goal, though it's still not very close to be fair, Bai He's long-range free-kick into Suwon's box collected comfortably by the goalkeeper.

Job done – or halfway done – for Eastern, who've successfully frustrated their K League opponents and restricted their chances, though Yapp Hung-fai still had to make a couple of good saves to keep them out. 

More of the same in the next 45 please.

41min

A flurry of ... well, 'attacks' would be too strong, but Eastern have at least had the ball in Suwon's half and made a little bit of progress. Can they nick a goal before half-time?

They win a free kick on the left touchline but after a lengthy buildup the ref blows for a foul in the box on a Suwon player to another roar of "DIIIUUUUU" from the home fans

38min

Suwon have spent three or four minutes simply throwing cross after cross into Eastern's box. Mitchell heads everything clear, but the ball keeps landing at the feet of Sovsic, who simply spreads it wide every time for another cross. Eastern need to get him under pressure, far too much time and space

Eventually one of the crosses finds a man but Seo Jungjin heads wide.

33min ANOTHER TERRIFIC SAVE!!

Beautiful interplay from Suwon, Sovsic playing a reverse through ball to striker Park, who flicks it back first-time to Santos. His strike is low across Yapp's body but he dives to turn it round thep post one handed

31min TERRIFIC SAVE!

Sovsic decides he's had enough and lets fly with a great strike from 20 yards that Yapp tips over one-handed diving to his right. The crowd chant his name though he's less convincing with the resulting corner, spilling the ball twice before a defender hoofs clear 

28min

Santos is the latest to get a half-chance for Suwon but lashes a shot from 12 yards well over. The cross from the right wing was a bit behind him to be fair. Eastern continue to do a good job of frustrating their opponents.

Suwon fans on the far side are making a healthy noise, with Eastern's drum corps on the opposite side of the pitch trying to drown them out

22min

Well, Eastern have succesfully 'kept it tight for the first 20 minutes', to use the cliche favoured by most English football pundits when commentating on a game where one team is a big underdog. Can they come forward a bit more?

Bai He gets the ball in an advanced postition but slices his attempted cross straight out of play to loud "DIUUUUUUs" from around the ground. 

18min

Suwon are actually playing a Chelsea-style 3-4-3, and left wing-back Kim is a threat. He whips in another great ball with his left foot but midfielder Ko Seung-beom can't connect properly with his head under pressure. Another warning

14min

Definitely all Suwon as you might expect though no clear chances for them so far. Yapp punched one cross rather unconvincingly and Mitchell's just headed another clear.

Eastern giving away far too many fouls and somebody will likely be going in the book soon. 

So far, Eastern's only plan on the rare occasions they get the ball is to lump it in the direction of McKee, a tactic that has been singularly unsuccessful thus far

9min 

Suwon coming into hit and left-back Kim Minwoo gets well forward to deliver a potentially dangerous cross that Yapp Hung-fai collects without much bother. 

Already Eastern struggling to see any of the ball

6min 

First sniff of goal to Suwon as Damir Sovsic threads a nice through ball into the box that Eastern can only put out for a corner. The set-piece is well dealt with

Suwon are 4-3-3 with Croatian Sovsic looking to pull strings from deep and Brazilian Santos playing off the shoulder of striker Park Gidong


2min - We're off! Eastern lining up 4-1-4-1 with a big shift necessary from Jaimes McKee up front on his own. Bai He sitting in front of the defence.

Eastern fans in front of me creating a deafening racket with their drum, belting out "WE ARE HONG KONG!"


7.55pm

Bit of a hiatus there as the internet failed me ... hopefully okay for the next 90

Steady drizzle falling on a chilly night. The photographers are queued up for the teams' entrance, with Eastern's fans battering the life out of a drum below me.

Stadium just about full for another 6,000 sellout, with some stragglers still making their way in.

Suwon haven't travelled in as great numbers as Kawasaki did, but are well represented. No noise from them at all though

 

7.25pm

Interesting Suwon's Brazilian forward Johnathan is not playing from the start, he's one of their dangermen and scored against Guangzhou Evergrande in a 2-2 draw on the last match-day. He's on the bench so presumably not injured, maybe Seo Jung-won, Suwon's coach, is taking the opportunity to rest him against what we have to admit is weaker opposition.

Yeom Ki-hun, who is Suwon's playmaker set-piece expert and top assist maker, is also on the bench, with Suwon playing reigning Asian champions Jeonbuk in the K League this weekend.

In fact, the Koreans have made seven changes to the line-up that faced Guangzhou – Kawasaki Frontale did similar against Eastern and paid the price, will it be the same tonight?

Suwon are unbeaten in their last 6 Champions League game, though they've drawn 4. 

Eastern have averaged only 25% possession in their first two games, not helped by that 7-0 hammering with nine men against Guangzhou, when they hardly saw the ball


7pm

Good evening, and welcome to Mong Kok Stadium, where Hong Kong champions Eastern are taking on Suwon Bluewings of South Korea (8pm kickoff).

Chan Yuen-ting’s side lost their opener 7-0 against Guangzhou Evergrande but bounced back with a 1-1 draw here against Kawasaki Frontale two weeks ago.

But they are without two of their top foreign players, striker Manuel Bleda and midfielder Diego Eli for this clash.

Here’s the line-ups with just under an hour to kick-off: