Lam’s late header trumped Hanoi FC and led Kitchee

Showing gritty determination to advance from the AFC Champions League 2017 Preliminary Stage 2, Kitchee overcame Hanoi FC in a thrilling manner on Wednesday evening through Lam Ka-wai’s match-winning header, defeating the visitors 3:2 after extra-time. The victory saw Kitchee punching its ticket for the AFC Champions League Playoffs and setting up a battle against Ulsan Hyundai from Korea Republic. Kitchee dictated the match from the start and generated numerous scoring chances. Fernando Pedreira rounded the Hanoi FC goalkeeper in the early stage but saw his shot cleared away by an opposing defender. Huang Yang and Alessandro Leonardo both had chances to put the Blues in front but hit the woodwork with their respective efforts. The first-half went on and ended in a scoreless tie. After the interval, Hanoi FC capitalized on a rare opportunity and went in front. Shortly afterwards, Alessandro Leonardo latched onto a header from Alexander Akande and fired home from close-range, forcing the game into extra-time. In the bottom frame of the extra-time, Fernando Pedreira sent a free-kick deep into the Hanoi FC box. Alexander Akande connected with the pass through a fantastic header and nodded the ball home, putting Kitchee in front. Hanoi FC somehow found a way to tie the game afterwards, sending the match into a stalemate once again. Just when it looked like the match was set for a penalty-shootout, an unmarked Lam Ka-wai found himself on the receiving end of a Fernando Pedreira free-kick late in the game and directed the ball into the net through a rare header, sealing a stunning 3:2 victory for Kitchee. Kitchee Head Coach Alex Chu gave the team’s performance a huge thumbs-up after the game and was delighted to see the Blues rallying from behind to snatch a comeback victory. “We played very well throughout the game and remained highly disciplined. We hit the crossbar on several occasions but did not get rattled, showed tremendous fight even when we were trailing and never gave up,” said the Kitchee tactician. Chu also signaled out the often-ridiculed Lam Ka-wai for praise, stating the midfielder had probably silenced his critics regarding his fitness level by turning in a splendid performance for a hundred and twenty minutes. Lam Ka-wai, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the game, attributed luck as a significant element for his goal. “I am very happy and excited to be able to score the winning goal for Kitchee,” Lam stated after the game. “Originally, I did not consider rushing into the box and trying to support the attack. Then I thought the match was coming to an end and decided to give it a go.” “Playing a full hundred and twenty minutes was not an easy task for me. It was a real credit to the team’s never give up attitude that we came up victorious tonight.”