Brilliant Kitchee boot Kelantan out of AFC Cup

An impressive display from Kitchee saw them advance to the AFC Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Kelantan after a 2-0 on Tuesday.

Kelantan AFC Cup 2013
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

An own-goal from Lek Kcira in the 15th minute got the Hong Kong treble champions on their way at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium, before they doubled their lead just before the break through Jordi Tarres' clinical strike.

Kelantan did mount a fightback after the break and had the back in the ball of the net twice through Norfarhan Muhammad and Dickson Nwakaeme, although both efforts were correctly ruled out for offside as their opponents held on to make the last eight.

Even before the opening whistle sounded, it was a last-16 match that promised plenty; pitting two sides that won the treble in their respective domestic competitions last season against one another.

But despite the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium traditionally being something of a fortress for the Red Warriors, it was Kitchee who started the brighter and Chu Siu Kei came close to opening the scoring after four minutes when Chu Siu Kei's point-blank range effort was saved by Khairul Fahmi.

Ten minutes later, the Malaysia international was again called into action to tip over a firm effort from Jordi, but there was little he could do to prevent the visitors from taking the lead a minute later.

Charging down the right on the overlap, Hong Kong international Lo Kwan Yee played a dangerous cross into the box in search of Pablo Counago and although Kcira initially looked to have done well to reach the ball ahead of the Spaniard, he could only poke it into the back of his own net.

Buoyed at taking the lead, Kitchee continued to look the more dominant side and just before halftime, they doubled their lead when Cheung Kin Fung broke down the left and played a perfect cross to Jordi, who clinically fired into the bottom corner.

Desperately needing a reply if they were to keep alive their hopes of progress, Kelantan came out for the second half looking a different side, rejuvenated by the halftime introduction of Nigerian striker Dickson Nwakaeme.

Three minutes after the hour mark, he was left in acres of space down the left and floated a cross straight onto the head of Norfarhan Muhammad, who made no mistake in turning the ball home. However, their celebrations were cut short by the linesman's flag and replays showed it was the right decision to rule the strike out for offside.

The Red Warriors had the ball in the back of the net once more in the 71st minute when Nwakaeme tapped home on the rebound after Norfarhan's initial header had come back off the post, but again it was correctly ruled out as the Nigerian had been in an offside position.

With time fast running out, Indra Putra Mahayuddin had one final chance to pull one back for Kelantan when he raced down the right and into the box, but he could only fire straight at Wang Zhenpeng.

As the final whistle blew, it was the Hong Kong side who were left celebrating their first-ever progress to the last eight of the AFC Cup; a fitting way to send off coach Josep Gombau, who will have left to take over A-League side Adelaide United by the time Kitchee are next in continental action.

Kelantan: Khairul Fahmi, Farisham Ismail, Lek Kcira, Obinna Nwaneri, Zairul Fitree Ishak, Shaki Shaari, Badhri Radzi, Indra Putra Mahayuddin (Khairul Izuan 86'), Dimitri Petratos, Faiz Subri (Dickson Nwakaeme 46', Haris Safwan 82'), Norfarhan Muhammad.

Kitchee: Wang Zhenpeng, Lo Kwan Yee, Fernando Recio, Zesh Rehman, Cheung Kin Fung, Huang Yang, Lam Ka Wai (Chan Man Fai 67'), Chu Siu Kei (Tsang Kam To 88'), Cheng Siu Wai (Lo Chi Kwan 62'), Pablo Counago, Jordi Torres.

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