Taichung Futuro on Sunday beat Tainan TSG 3-0 to take the top spot in the Taiwan Football Premier League standings with 20 points, while Hang Yuan bested Taipower 2-0 to rise to second place with 19 points in a tight title race.
Taichung scored all three of their goals in the first half in a rainy afternoon match in Tainan, with Haitian striker Benchy Estama opening the scoring at seven minutes, passing to Turkish-born forward Onur Dogan, who clipped the ball over Tainan goalkeeper Tuan Hsuan.
Futuro doubled the lead after Tuan blocked a free-kick at 21 minutes that was completed by Japanese defender Takeo Miyazaki.
Photo: Screen grab from Taichung Futuro’s Facebook page
At about 30 minutes in, defender Su Te-tsai slipped on a long incoming pass, giving Estama the chance to take possession and sprint into the box to score with a high side shot past Tuan.
In lieu of celebrating, Estama held up his hands for a few seconds, which his teammates later said was to show his gratitude to Tainan, with whom he spent two seasons, playing a pivotal role in their two league titles. He left with three other players to join Futuro.
Futuro kept up the pressure on the waterlogged pitch, preventing Tainan from finding the net.
Futuro manager Henry Von told the Taipei Times that his team were prepared for the weather.
“We checked the forecast, and seeing as it was likely to rain, we came to Tainan prepared. We made sure to have the right equipment, and brought the proper shoes to ensure firm footing on a rainy, slick field,” he said.
He also told players not to make short passes, as it is difficult to control the ball, but instead to seek long passes to push into the opposition’s territory quickly and put pressure on their defense, Von said.
In Kaohsiung, Hang Yuan also scored their winning goals against Taipower before half-time.
About 30 minutes in, Hang Yuan forward Liu Chih-wen blasted in a rebound from a blocked shot by South Korean striker Joo Ik-seong to take the lead.
Just before half-time, midfielder Huang Yu-wei scored with a header off a corner-kick.
“Our forwards and midfielders did a good job on attack, and also helping on defense,” Hang Yuan manager Hong Ching-huai said after the game. “We won this game by making good on the few presented chances, and grabbing a goal from the corner-kick was key.”
In Taoyuan, the Taipei-based Leopard Cat and AC Taipei ended their match in a 2-2 draw.
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