Hong Kong side Kitchee confirmed their spot in the last 16 of the AFC Cup as winners of Group F after thumping Balestier Khalsa 4-0 at the Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday.
The result puts Chu Chi Kwong’s side on 13 points, well ahead of Philippines outfit Kaya, who drew 0-0 with New Radiant in Tuesday’s other match, on ten points.
Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa finished in third on seven, while Maldives’ New Radiant ended their AFC Cup campaign on three points at the bottom of the Group.
Spanish forward Jordi Tarres Jorge Paramo gave the hosts the lead in the 38th minute, before Rufino Segovia doubled their advantage just after the half-time break.
Segovia added his second of the night on the hour mark and Cheng Chin-Lung put the result beyond question with 15 minutes remaining.
With the hosts dominating from the outset, it came as no surprise when they finally broke the deadlock in the 38th minute, when Rufino and Tarres combined to great effect. Rufino was played into space on the left flank and after bamboozling the Balestier Khalsa with a bit of skill, he delivered a pinpoint cross which left Tarres with an easy finish.
Shortly after the half-time interval, the hosts doubled their advantage and this time if was Rufino who got his name on the score sheet with his fourth goal of the competition.
Play-maker Lam Ka Wai delivered an accurate ball out to Lo Kwan Yee on the left flank, and after the Kitchee captain took a few touches, he delivered a cross that left Rufino with a tap-in for goal.
In the 61st minute, Rufino scored his second of the night after illustrating some quick feet in the visitors’ penalty box. Left-back Tong Kin Man raced down the left flank and after beating the cover defender, found the Spaniard in the box. While his opener was scored with a relatively easy finish, Rufino still had a lot to do to score his second of the night, getting the ball out of his feet really well and after taking a few more touches, nutmegging the closing defender with a fine finish from 15 yards.
Fourteen minutes later the hosts got their fourth and final goal of the night through substitute Cheng Chin Lung, who had only come onto the field six minutes earlier.
With the visitors piling players forward in search of a goal, Lam was once again in the thick of things, finding Cheng’s run with an accurate through-ball.
Lam’s first touch was poor and the chance nearly went abegging, but with Zaiful Nizam in the Tigers goal closing him down, he found the back of the net with a lovely lobbed finish.
Kitchee will take on Group H runners-up JSW Bengaluru of India in the last 16 of the competition in two weeks’ time.