Italians battle to keep perfect record

AC MILAN finished their tour of Asia with their unbeaten win record intact as they coaxed themselves to an uninspiring 2-1 victory over South China at the Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.

The Italians won the BB Telecom Super Champions Cup despite struggling in the heat and humidity in a lacklustre match which drew a crowd of just 13,126 spectators.

It was AC Milan's fifth victory in the region in 11 days.

And they had striker Alessandro Melli to thank for their latest win after the 25-year-old Italian international's brace of goals, including a 80th-minute penalty, killed off all hope South China had of claiming any glory at the end of the season.

'We were struggling out there. The heat was too much for us. Conditions were the worst in our matches in Asia,' AC Milan coach Fabio Capello said.

South China, fielding three guest players, experimented by shifting players to unfamiliar positions and had only one or two training sessions as a team.

They made six substitutions and rarely clicked as a team.

The Caroliners' guest strikers - Senegal's Emanuel Gentil Da Cunha and Qatar's Mahmoud Yasin - were replaced in the second half. The third guest, Brazilian defender Aurelio Ferreira Da Silva, survived the 90 minutes.

Hong Kong's favourite team took the lead in the 31st minute through a penalty after Filippo Galli pushed Emanuel Gentil Da Cunha in the box. Wu Qunli duly converted.