AFC Champions League

AS IT HAPPENED: Asian Champions League - Eastern 1 Kawasaki Frontale 1

Hong Kong's Eastern make history with the city's first ever Champions League points, but will feel they could have won

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 10:22am


History for Hong Kong as Eastern earn the city's first ever Asian Champions League point, but it could have, probably should have, been all three.

Manuel Bleda set Eastern on their way with a terrific penalty after 15 minutes, with Kawasaki defender Nara seeing red for bringing him down in the box.

Eastern sat back despite the man advantage, and Kawasaki made them pay in the 52nd minute, Yapp Hung-fai rushing off his line and getting caught out by Itakura

Eastern had several great chances to win it, hitting the bar through Affonso, and Josh Mitchell having a header cleared off the line.

It was a terrific atmosphere at a packed Mong Kok Stadium, and Chan Yuen-ting's men will be hopeful of recording a first win in their next game against Suwon Bluewings, also at home in two weeks.

However the gap in class was on display as at times it looked like Eastern were playing with 10 rather than Kawasaki, Chan's side never getting to grips in midfield despite their man advantage.

Guangzhou Evergrande drew 2-2 with Suwon Bluewings earlier, so it's 4 points for them, 2 for Suwon and Kawasaki and 1 for Eastern. Terrific match. 

Catch up with all the incidents below.

90+3' RED CARD! -- AND FULL TIME!??!!

Manuel Bleda does Rhayner with a lovely turn, the Brazilian receiving his second yellow card. 

But the referree bizarrely blows for full time without letting Eastern take the free-kick and their players and fans go mental. 

Coach Chan Yuen-ting runs on to the pitch to drag defender Affonso away from the ref before he does something really silly


Eastern win a free kick just inside Kawasaki's half and send it long, winning a corner.

The next set-piece is disastrous from Xu though, bending out of play and too deep in any case. That might be it


Eastern have a potential 4v1 counter but the attempted ball to switch play goes straight to Kawasaki's defender. That's probably not going to be the last chance though. Three minutes added time


Despite having the man advantage, you'd think Eastern were down to 10 as they can't get any pressure on the ball in midfield. Sub Kobayashi is the latest to threaten for Kawasaki, heading just over from a corner.


Kawasaki corner cleared by Eastern. Cheung King-ho comes on for Tsang as Eastern use their final sub


Jaimes McKee is kicking himself after heading straight at the keeper from six yards out after being picked out by Lee on the left. Eastern should be well ahead but it's still anyone's to win

As if to prove it, moments later Kawasaki are denied only by a superb stop from Yapp, Moriya again I think.

Ju Yingzhi comes on to replace Lee. Eastern need to get a grip on midfield, they have the extra man after all


Free-kick in a dangerous area for Kawasaki on the left corner of Eastern's box, but Moriya's shot is well over the bar to big cheers from the crowd, which is 5,787


Lee puts in a decent ball from the left but Bleda and McKee aren't up with play. Next goal surely wins with a quarter of the game to go...


Eastern win a corner and Josh Mitchell batters a terrific header past the keeper, but Murimoto manages to head it off the line. Bai He and Rhayner both booked for some argy-bargy in the aftermath. 

Just before that, Xu Deshuai has come on for Leung Chun-pong


"WE ARE HONG KONG" is ringing out around the ground as the fans try to inspire Eastern. Bai He tries his luck from range, but his shot is off target


Great running from McKee and a nice layoff from Bleda sees the Hong Kong forward closing on on goal, but a last-ditch tackle denies him. The corner is too deep for Eastern to profit from


Eastern win a free-kick on the right and the ball comes to Diego at the back post who flights a header back over the keeper but on to the woodwork. Goalmouth scramble afterwards, but Kawasaki just manage to clear


Sub Kano crosses from the right and Rhayner helps the ball on. Eastern fail to deal with it and Yapp comes rushing out when he probably should have stayed his line. I think it's Moriya with the final touch (Itakura actually). It's been coming

Eastern hit back immediately and McKee is dispossed while closing on goal, before Bleda is just unable to connect with a header from an excellent cross from the left


Murimoto is next to get an effort on goal but can't connect properly with an attempted half-volley from a ball over the top. The Japanese side have come out very lively


The second half is underway with Kawasaki bringing on Yusuke Tasaka for Kenta Kano. Eastern unchanged as they dream of a huge upset

Kawasaki straight on the attack and Koji Miyushi stings Yapp's hands with a near-post effort


What a difference that 45 was for Eastern compared to the torture in Guangzhou a week ago. Manuel Bleda gave them the lead from the spot after 15 minutes after being taken down for the penalty, with Kawasaki central defender Nara sent off. Both decisions looked a bit harsh, but most of the 6,000 in Mong Kok weren't complaining.

Despite the man disadvantage though, Kawasaki have arguably had the better of the first half, without creating any clear-cut chances. Eastern surely need to change it up and be more positive in the second half, though you can understand coach Chan's caution as she and her team are complete novices at this level



All the pressure coming from Kawasaki as we approach half-time, and Affonso has to make a last ditch block to prevent Murimoto getting shot on goal from close range. From the resulting corner Eastern threaten to break, but the final ball is not good enough again


Kawasaki win another free-kick deep in Eastern territory as Leung rugby tackles Moriya, but again the defence deals with the cross well. I feel a goal coming for the Japanese here if Eastern don't liven themselves up


Great bit of defending from Mitchell again as he disposses two Kawasaki players in quick succession in his own box. Eastern not holding on to the ball well enough to cause Kawasaki any problems. Tsang at right-back in particular coming in for some "diuuuuuus" for losing the ball. Wonder if Chan will change it at half-time


Kawasaki win a free-kick in a dangerous area but Eastern deal with it well. Both sides still not making much of an impression up front, with Eastern happy to play on the counter even though they have the man advantage. Is coach Chan Yuen-ting being overly cautious?

Left-back Kuruyama gets forward for Kawasaki, but it's unclear if his effort straight out of play from inside the box was supposed to be a cross or a shot.


Kawasaki are having plenty of the ball despite being down to 10, but not really doing anything with it. Eastern still keeping their 4-5-1 shape, not commiting too many forward. 

Kawasaki's fans are still bouncing up and down and singing away and hammering their Japanese instruments. 

Their striker Murimoto has a go from 25 yards, but it's easy for Yapp in goal. Eastern's Mitchell is eventually booked for a wild sliding tackle in the build-up to that effort


In the excitement there I forgot to mention (okay, failed to notice), that Kawasaki's Nara was sent off for that foul on Bleda.

Meanwhiole, a sensational effort from Bleda from the halfway line nearly catches the Kawasaki keeper napping. What a goal that would have been

14' EASTERN 1 Kawasaki 0! 

Bleda steps up to take the pen and wallops it right-footed high to the keeper's left, giving him no chance. What a start for the Hong Kong champions!


Diego knocks a long ball over the top for Bleda to run on to and he's muscled over in the box. The Iraqi referee points straight to the spot


Kawasaki starting to look more comfortable and have a dangerous attack as Brazilian Rhayner whips a cross in from the right towards striker Murimoto that Josh Mitchell has to clear acrobatically. Kawasaki get a corner but it comes to nothing


Promising start from Eastern, who have dominated possession early on. They're 4-5-1 as follows: Yapp; Tsang, Affonso, Mitchell, Tse; McKee, Diego, Bai, Leung, Lee; Bleda


The iconic AFC Champions League rings out and we're about to get underway at Mong Kok Stadium, with plenty of late comers still making their way to their seats. Terrific atmosphere already, with maybe 500 Kawasaki fans making a good noise


Kick off approaching and fans are still streaming in for a sell-out attendance. 

Over in Korea, Guangzhou have made it 2-2 with full-time approaching against Suwon, Alan scoring his second Champions League goal in two games.

As @offsideHK notes, comparing Kawasaki's team to their opener against Suwon, they've made eight changes – are they expecting a walkover against Eastern?

A tweeter who knows a lot more about Japanese football than me reckons it's still a strong lineup


Battle of the drums on either side of the ground at the moment. Eastern edging it

Catching up with the always decent Hong Kong Football podcast - preview for this game starts at 25min if you want something to listen to in the build-up



Decent turnout of Frontale fans have made the journey from Kawasaki, south of Tokyo. They're dancing and singing songs to the beat of a drum and that particularly Japanese-sounding cymbal thing I don't know the proper name of.

Eastern's fans fly their flags, bang an extremely loud drum and shout "WE ARE HONG KONG!" as their team comes out to warm up.

Interestingly, in the other game in the group, Guangzhou are losing 2-1 to Suwon Bluewings in Korea. That was a 6pm kick-off, so nearly over. Suwon and Kawasaki drew 1-1 while Guangzhou were pummeling Eastern 7-0 last week


Good evening and welcome to Mong Kok Stadium, where Hong Kong champions Eastern will be taking on Kawasaki Frontale of Japan in their second Asian Champions League game.

Eastern are coming off a resounding 7-0 thrashing at the hands of big-spending Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande in their opener. Can they prove they belong at this level?

The compact Mong Kok Stadium is already startiing to fill up an hour before the 8pm kick off and a great atmosphere is sure to be made by the 6,000 or so in the stands. 

Eastern captain Yapp Hung-fai insists he and his teammates have recovered from the mental trauma of their pummeling in Guangzhou, but Frontale are sure to provide another stern test. 

Here's the starting XIs, with Eastern set to line up 4-5-1: 

Meanwhile, if you want to relive the agony of Eastern's Champions League debut, here's the "highlights":