Hong Kong; May 31, 2015: Atletico Madrid came from two goals down to beat West Ham United 3-2 after extra-time to win the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens in spectacular fashion at Hong Kong Football Club on Sunday evening.
Atletico were the first Spanish club to compete at the Soccer Sevens and left with the Cup and a new army of fans after living up to their reputation as the tournament’s team to watch, thrilling fans with attacking football that provided dramatic matches throughout the group and knockout stages.
The Spanish giants – whose first team won La Liga last year – needed extra-time to win all three of their knockout matches on Sunday, edging Hong Kong champions Kitchee 3-2 in the quarter-finals and then pipping Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in the semi-finals.
Captain Samuel Saiz was named Player of the Tournament and was also the top scorer with seven goals, which included the extra-time winner against a young West Ham side.
“It’s very simple. We have this philosophy at the club that we never give up and this is the club’s philosophy. It’s in our heart. It’s part of the Atletico Madrid brand,” said the 24-year-old striker, who has played for Atletico B for the past five seasons.
“We really enjoyed it. The seven-a-side format is new to us, but it’s a lot of fun and great viewing for the spectators. We want to come back next year.”
West Ham led 1-0 at half-time through 19-year-old Janaai Gordon, who scored again in the second half to give the Premier League club a comfortable-looking lead. Benjamin Akoto Asamoah, 21, pulled one back for Atletico before Ivan Perez, 24, curled in a superb left-foot equaliser late on to force extra-time.
With a sudden burst of rain adding drama to the finale, Samu again rose to the occasion, the blonde striker skipping past the West Ham defence at the top of the box to create space for a low right-foot shot into the corner that prompted huge celebrations.
“It’s our first time and we can’t believe that we could keep going and going, all the way to the final,” Saiz said. “We had to give everything we had to win it.”
Atletico’s attacking style and their vulnerability at the back ensured thrill-a-minute matches and after dancing and singing in celebration at the trophy presentation, the squad were mobbed by young fans looking for mementos from their new heroes.
The team had to come from behind against both HKFA U-20 and Yau Yee League Select to record 2-1 wins in the group stage, and only secured their progress into the Cup competition with a lively 2-2 draw against Stoke City.
West Ham had earned their place in the final with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, who had goalkeeper Adam Bartlett sent off in the fifth minute when the Hammers were 1-0 up.