Hang Yuen blow early lead in loss to Benfica

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - Page 16

Taiwan’s Hang Yuen FC on Wednesday night got off to a good start in Macau, leading by two goals before halftime, and looked ready to make history with an away win, but Benfica de Macau had other plans, as the hosts rallied in the second half to win their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifier 3-2.

Striker Chen Ching-hsuan opened the account in the 19th minute, knocking in a header on a cross from just outside the 18-yard box.

Hang Yuen then doubled the lead in the 34th minute, when Haitian import Jean-Marc Alexandre made a penetrating pass into the box, where midfielder Hsu Yi then found Chen in front of the goal.

The in-form striker lashed it home for a brace, leaving the visitors with a two-goal advantage and seemingly on the way to a first victory by a Taiwanese team in the competition.

However, the visitors suffered a calamitous collapse within a 20-minute span in the second half, with Benfica storming back with three goals to win the home match.

Less than five minutes after the intermission, Gilchrist Nguema struck from inside the box during a scramble.

In the 61st minute, Carlos Leonel received a cross from the right, which he directed with a glancing header into the lower left corner to level the score.

Three minutes later, Leonel caught Hang Yuen’s defense napping during a corner and slotted the ball into the net from the far post for a brace to complete the comeback.

The hosts held firm the rest of the way for the victory, picking up three points to sit atop Group I.

“Our players lacked big-game experience. They got flustered when the other team scored its first goal,” Hang Yuen head coach Hung Ching-huai said after the game. “Our defenders did not close down tight and gave the opposition too much room. Then we conceded more goals, resulting in this defeat.”

In Taiwan’s top league, Taipower FC and Tatung FC last year finished first and second respectively, but they forfeited their spots in the AFC Cup, citing financial constraints.

The nation’s entry in the AFC Cup went to Hang Yuen, who were third in the league. They were placed in Group I, which also includes two North Korean clubs, 4.25 SC and Hwaebul SC.

The AFC Cup is Asia’s second-tier club circuit, with the region’s top teams vying for the prestigious AFC Champions League title.