Solid team effort powered Kitchee over Wofoo Tai P

Kitchee gave its best effort and displayed a strong will to win on Sunday’s Senior Shield semi-final, twice breaking down Wofoo Tai Po’s resilient defense and coming out victorious in a 2:1 win. The Blues is now only one step away from claiming the long-aspired Senior Shield trophy. Back in the premier league when the two sides met earlier, Wofoo Tai Po’s defense-minded approach already caused Kitchee quite a few headaches. The two sides met up in the Senior Shield once again on Sunday afternoon and the Blues understandably paid close attention to the opponent’s counter-attack while searching for the much-needed space to attack. Unfortunately, Korean defender Kim Bongjin picked up a knock before the half-time whistle and had to be withdrawn. With Kim out of the side, Kitchee quickly applied adjustments by sending substitute Jared Lum into the game and pushing midfielder Huang Yang back to central defense. Kitchee continued to face Wofoo Tai Po’s stubborn defense in the second-half but the Blues still attempted various attacking options up-front. On the 51st minute, Helio Goncalves connected with a teammate’s corner-kick and hit the goal-post with his header. Alessandro Leonardo sent the loose ball towards the goal-mouth with a spectacular bicycle-kick, allowing Huang Yang to add a nifty header. A Wofoo Tai Po player accidentally directed the ball home and put Kitchee in front 1:0. The New Territories side managed to tie the game on the 60th minute but thankfully for Kitchee, Alessandro Leonardo picked up the ball through a lovely Daniel Cancela pass on the 83rd minute, then spun-and-fired and found the back of the net with a sweet left-footer, re-establishing Kitchee’s lead in the process. Kitchee went on and nailed down the victory, forcing its way into the Senior Shield final once again since the 2014-2015 domestic season. Alessandro Leonardo, who hit the woodwork once before netting the match-winner for Kitchee, insisted the team did not give up during the game despite seemingly going against the Lady Luck. “That is football and sometimes, luck is not on your side and goals do not come easy. But we did not give up, we kept our heads down and continued to go to work. When the opportunity arrived, we seized it with both hands,” said the lanky forward. Leonardo proceeded to offer Wofoo Tai Po full credit, claiming the opponent is a quality side and much improved from the premier league-showing. However, Kitchee players maintained calmness and patience throughout the game, which led to the eventual victory. Defender Helio Goncalves is confident Kitchee will head into the Senior Shield final as a much stronger side. “It was a scrapping game against Wofoo Tai Po in the semi-final but somehow, we managed to conquer the opponent. Wofoo Tai Po played extremely well and showed great organization both offensively and defensively. We gave it our best shot and worked hard to come out on top,” said Goncalves. “When the game was 1:1 approaching the end, we all thought maybe extra-time would be on the cards. Yet Sandro’s (Alessandro Leonardo) goal led us to a great victory. We have not won the Senior Shield in a long time. After going through such a difficult victory, we will become a stronger force and will try even harder to win the trophy.”