Kitchee made history by becoming the first Hong Kong side to reach the AFC Champions League last 16 after a dramatic 2-2 draw against Vissel Kobe of Japan in their final group game in Buriram, Thailand on Sunday. Raul Baena headed home from a corner in added time, giving Kitchee the point they needed to reach the round of 16, for the first time since the Hong Kong champions started playing in the continental top-tier cup competition in 2015. Kitchee twice came from a goal behind to make history, and the only dampener on the evening was the red card Baena received minutes after his dramatic equaliser, which rules him out of the next game. “We have worked very hard for this moment and I think we deserve it as we did an amazing job,” Baena said. “I’m very happy for the club, fans and all of us. Everybody gave their best.” Baena’s goal came just three minutes after Yoshinori Muto had headed home, also from a corner, to give Kobe a 2-1 lead on 87 minutes. The Japanese side still finished top of the group with eight points, with Kitchee on seven. Hosts Chiangrai United finished bottom of the group with one point. Kitchee set up AFC Champions League group decider by beating Chiangrai 3-2 The first two goals came in the final stages of the first half, with Kobe’s Brazilian player Lincoln Santos scoring a penalty against the run of play on 44 minutes. Hotaru Yamaguchi took possession from Law Tsz-chun and passed the ball to Santos who was brought down by Baena inside the box. Santos made no mistake to convert from the spot to give his side the lead. Kitchee, who had dominated for most of the first period, responded quickly, with Kobe defender Leo Osaki gifting them an equaliser. Under no pressure from the opposing side, Osaki handled the ball inside the penalty box, giving Kitchee the chance to level terms. Dejan Damjanovic duly slotted home his 42nd goal in the AFC Champions League to make it 1-1. “It was like riding a roller coaster,” said Kitchee coach Alex Chu Chi-kwong. “We twice came back from behind and both happened in stoppage time. The boys get all the honour for their never give -up attitude. “The situation has been tricky. We needed a draw to go through to the next round but the opponents are much stronger than us and we can’t be too aggressive, as it may cost us dearly. We can’t also rely solely on defence as it will keep us under pressure. “But fortunately the boys did a good job, as we prepared all the situations for what we should do when trailing behind. I am very happy with the result.” Two other Hong Kong sides, South China and Eastern, have also appeared in the regional cup tournament before, but have never reached the knockout stage.