HONG KONG, 28 May 2023–Aston Villa secured a record-extending seventh HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title on Sunday as the Premier League outfit defeated Hong Kong’s Tai Po FC 3-0 at a packed Hong Kong Football Club to claim the trophy for the first time since 2016.
Omari Kellyman scored twice in the first half before Lee Ka-ho’s red card for a foul on the 17-year-old left Tai Po short-handed, with Frankie Ealing hitting his side’s third ahead of Luizinho’s late sending off, which saw the Hong Kong side finish the game with five players.
“At the start of the tournament we had a disappointing result against Tai Po, so to bounce back and win all the games after that hasn’t been an easy thing to do,” said Kellyman, who ended as the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals.
“But we did it and I’m proud ofthe boys. It’s been a great experience. The tournament has been all about experience and to come out here and play the game I love has been great.
“The physical side of the game, the heat is very different from England. Coming out here, you’ve got to runthe hard yards and do everything to the best of your ability. It’s been great.”
Tai Po had pulled off a surprise 1-0 win over Villa in the group meeting between the teams on Saturday but there was to be no repeat of that result as the Premier League sideraced into an early lead.
Kellyman gave Villa the perfect start when he bent the opener into the top corner with less than two minutes on the clock and, five minutes later, he doubled the advantage with another strike from outside the area, steering a low left-foot shot beyond Tse Ka Wing.
Lee’s clumsy attempt to halt Kellyman in the ninth minute saw him receive a direct red card and Villa exploited their advantage, with Ealing netting his side’s third from close range after a miss-hit attempted clearance by Tse.
Luizinho received a second yellow card seven minutes into the second half to leave Tai Po with only five players and effectively ensure Villa were crowned champions once again.
Earlier in the day, defending champions Newcastle United crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 2-0 to Aston Villa, who took on Kitchee in the last four after the Hong Kong Premier League champions had seen off Queens Park Rangers.
Tai Po, meanwhile, notched up a 1-0 win over Leicester City to set up a semi-final meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion following their 1-0 win over fellow Premier League club Fulham.
The Hong Kong Premier League outfit eliminated Brighton & Hove Albion in a penalty shoot-out as Villa beat Kitchee to set-up the decider, with the English club ultimately emerging victorious.
In the Masters Event, defending champions Wallsend Boys Club retained the title with a 2-1 sudden-death extra-time win over 2018 winners Ampcontrol Discovery Bay in the final, with Kim Dong-jin netting the winner.
Wallsend had seen off Rio Cricket Association Athletic to advance to the final for the second tournament in a row while Ampcontrol Discovery Bay defeated Hong Kong Football Club Masters to progress to the decider.
The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens was playedout in front of bumper crowds at the Hong Kong Football Club for the first time since 2019 after the event was forced to take a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens has been a resounding success and I would like to thank all of our sponsors, the teams, Hong Kong Football Club members and the fans who turned out in fantastic numbers to support this very special event,” said Hong Kong Football Club Chairman Neil Jensen.“
It has been an honour for HKFC to be ableto play a role in the return of high quality sport to Hong Kong after the pandemic and we hope through future editions we can continue to showcase the positive qualities of our unique city and its love for this remarkable game.”