Kitchee wraps up AFC Champions League group stage

Wrapping up the Club’s first ever venture in the AFC Champions League group stage, Kitchee travelled to Jeonju on Wednesday evening to face K-League side Jeonbuk Motors in a Group E finale. The Blues gave its absolute best on the evening but found itself on the wrong end of a 3:0 score-line. The loss meant Kitchee had to settle for a fourth-place finish in Group E of the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage. With mainstays such as Helio Goncalves, Fernando Recio, Alessandro Leonardo and Diego Forlan all missing the Korea trip due to various injuries, Kitchee managed to withstand Jeonbuk Motors’ advances in the first half. The Blues even had one great chance to break the game open, yet Cheng Chin-lung’s strike was turned away by Jeonbuk Motors goalkeeper Song Bum Kuen. The game remained scoreless entering the break. Jeonbuk Motors finally broke the stalemate midway in the second half, as Lee Seung Gi fired home a Kim Shin Wook header and put the home side in front. Shortly afterwards, Jeonbuk Motors was at it again. This time, Lee Seung Gi’s close-range strike was beautifully saved by Kitchee keeper Wang Zhenpeng before hitting the goal-post. Lee sent the ball towards the top of the box, allowing Lim Sun Young to let rip. Kim Shin Wook added a nifty header and duly sent the ball to the back of the net. Late in the game, Lim Sun Young finished off a slick Jeonbuk Motors attack and smashed the ball into the Kitchee net, completing the 3:0 score line for the Korean side. Kitchee midfielder Krisztian Vadocz admitted Jeonbuk Motors was the worthy winner on the day but could not hide his disappointment of failing to advance in the AFC Champions League group stage. “We knew Jeonbuk Motors was going to press us and to keep on attacking our goal. I thought we were playing a great game right before we conceded the first goal. Unfortunately, the opponent was simply too strong for us,” the midfielder assessed. “We worked hard together but maybe this is the limit for us at the present time. The better team won today and it is sad that things have to come to an end for us in the AFC Champions League.” Kitchee youngster Cheng Chin-lung reveals competing in this year’s AFC Champions League has done himself a world of good. “My stamina has really improved since competing in this year’s AFC Champions League group stage for Kitchee,” offered the emerging Kitchee attacker. “Even though I was unable to finish the whole game today, I do hope that one day I will be able to play a full match in the AFC Champions League. If you can handle an AFC Champions League game, you can handle pretty much any game out there.”