AFC Champions League

Kitchee brushed aside by Tianjin in their opening match of AFC Champions League

Hong Kong club suffer stage fright at first but can be encouraged by their second-half display

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 11:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 11:27pm

Hong Kong side Kitchee suffered first-half stage fright in their 3-0 away defeat by Tianjin Quanjian in their opening AFC Champions League match in Tianjin on Tuesday night.

After conceding first-half goals from Anthony Modeste, an own goal from Paulinho and Sun Ke’s 39th minute strike, Kitchee turned in a much better second half performance but goals proved elusive.

They had a chance to score four minutes from time but failed to find the back of the net as they began their campaign in Asia’s most prestigious regional club competition on a shaky note.

Not even the presence of former Uruguay international Diego Forlan could lift Kitchee, who will be struggling for points in group E judging by how they failed to contain a rampant Tianjin forward line in the first half.

AFC Champions League debutants Kitchee likely to feel full force of Chinese Super League sides ready to conquer Asia

On a freezing night with temperatures hovering below zero degrees Celsius in the Northern China Port, Kitchee were under pressure from the get-go.

French striker Modeste scored a majestic header at the near post in the 32nd minute. He was a constant threat up front. Paulinho put the ball into his own net under pressure and Sun made it 3-0 at the interval. Kitchee had just one shot at goal in the first half and never looked liked scoring.

Hat-trick hero Diego Forlan keeps up his personal goal of the season campaign with two more trademark free kicks for Kitchee

But the 21,000 home spectators at Tianjin Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, who were expecting Kitchee to cave in even more in the second half, were left disappointed as the Hong Kong club fortified their defence and didn’t ship any more goals in an encouraging effort.

Kitchee coach Chu Chi-kwong was not too disappointed with the result, saying his side had to iron out kinks in their game.

“This was our first game in the Champions League group match and playing away made it difficult for us,” said Chu. “We made some mistakes in the first half, and this is something we must avoid in future games.”

Diego Forlan’s Kitchee will kick off AFC Champions League in China after Tianjin Quanjian avoid upset to Philippine underdogs

Kitchee will play hosts to Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea in their second game next week.

Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory and Ulsan drew 3-3; Shanghai SIPG edged Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 and Jeonbuk Motors defeated Kashiwa Reysol 3-2.