2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship - China 1:0 Hong Kong
Hong Kong played against China PR in their last match of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 Final Japan at the Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture. Despite showing great determination and being dominant in attacks, Hong Kong regrettably lost by 1:0.
This final fixture of the Championship was Hong Kong's third match in just 9 days, but Head Coach Jörn ANDERSEN continued with the same starting lineup, coming off the good performance against Korea Rep. in the previous match.
From the kick-off, Hong Kong executed its high pressing tactic and made it difficult for China PR to keep possession and create offensive opportunities. In the 6th minute, it almost paid off as winger LAW Tsz Chun attempted to catch Chinese goalkeeper HAN Jiaqi right outside the box with a sliding challenge. Pressing the opposition backline continued to pay off as the Hong Kong frontline attempted to capitalise on Han's shaky distribution, eventually forcing a penalty box scramble amongst the Chinese backline with defenders forced to hastily clear the lines.
China PR’s only big chance in the first half came on the 11th minute, where JIANG Shenglong took a stopping header arising from a corner kick. However, the attempt was remarkably cleared off the goal line by left-back LEUNG Kwun Chung at the near post. The atmosphere in the stadium filled with more than 4 000 fans started to fire up by this point.
In the next twenty minutes, the tempo slightly dropped and the game became rather physical with lots of fifty-fifty challenges. Both teams began looking for long passes which were largely unsuccessful. Sparks flew at the 31st minute as HE Yupeng retaliated with unsportsmanlike behaviour after a tackle by Leung, resulting in both players getting booked.
Striker Matt ORR took a while to grow into the game, but his influence slowly grew beginning in the 42nd minute, dropping deep into midfield to collect, before looking up and letting loose an ambitious long-range effort that wasn't far off the mark. Two minutes later, the ball broke from an aerial duel in midfield. Orr collected just outside the box 1-on-1 with the last defender, shimmied and did a quick stepover before firing a on-target shot that was saved by Han, tipping it over the bar. Centre-back Vas NUNEZ rose to connect with a powerful header from the subsequent corner that ended up wide of the mark to end the half.
At the start of the second half, Hong Kong took some time to re-establish the rhythm they had built up in the first half, but the midfield eventually found their footing and dominated proceedings to open the second half. The fullbacks began joining the attacks to provide more options for their midfielders, gradually making their mark on the game as right-back YUE Tze Nam swung an accurate early cross in from the right to Orr in the 50th minute, who was well defended.
The Hong Kong full-backs did their work again at the 57th minute, as Leung delivered a curling cross through the penalty box to find Yue at the far post. Yue made a goal attempt with a full stretch but his effort unfortunately went wide.
Having done well to find their groove and create increasingly lethal chances in the opposition half, it all went south in a series of unfortunate events for Hong Kong in the 67th minute. Attempting to maintain possession in their own half, an attempt to clear the lines deflected off a Chinese player which rolled right into the path of a waiting TAN Long just inside the Hong Kong box. Tan unleashed a quickfire shot which found the back of the net giving China PR a 1-0 lead.
Hong Kong nonetheless stayed true to their style of playing and continued to fight back in the remaining minutes. Leung put in another dangerous delivery from a right sided corner in the 73rd minute. China cleared their lines but only for Law to take an open shot at the top of the box which almost deflected into the goal but was eventually cleared.
In the 84th minute, a series of passes found Orr at the right edge of the box, who feinted and waited before slipping in SUN Ming Him behind the Chinese backline. Sun made a shot attempt although he was bought down to the ground, which eventually did not matter as he was called for offside.
As Chinese players started to suffer from cramps and tried to wind the clock down, Hong Kong missed another chance to equalise at the 90th minute. Substitute JU Yingzhi swung in a delivery from a corner kick which Sean TSE headed the ball back, trying to set up a goal opportunity for Orr. Unfortunately, Orr’s shot was blocked by the Chinese goalkeeper and then the ball fell to another substitute CHENG Siu Kwan just inside the box who dragged his shot wide moments before the final whistle.