Hong Kong, 25 May 2014 – England U-18 winger Brandon Barker scored two sensational second-half goals as Manchester City came from behind to beat Hong Kong champions Kitchee 2-1 in a dramatic Cup final at the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.
Manchester City had earlier come from behind to beat Sunderland 3-2 after extra-time of a thrilling semi-final, while Kitchee had also needed a golden goal to beat Newcastle United 3-2 in the first semi at Hong Kong Football Club.
Jason Wilcox, concluding his first season as Manchester City U-18 coach, was delighted with his young players, who were devastated to lose in the English U18 Premier League playoff final just days before flying to Hong Kong.
“I thought it was fantastic and just a fitting end to our season. They’ve worked really hard,” said the 42-year-old former England winger, whose career included a Premier League title with Blackburn Rovers.
“It’s not the first time we’ve come back from being down, so I’m really pleased. They showed great character. I’m delighted for them, because we lost the U18s Premier League final just before we came, so they’ve recovered well.
“I said before we came, we’re a very exciting team and even the defenders are good attackers. I always knew we’d have goals in us, so if we could defend properly, work hard and understand the format, then I knew we’d go far.”
Kitchee captain Lo Kwan-yee deflected in a shot by Spanish striker Jordi Tarres Paramo just before the break in a match featuring two 10-minute halves. Jordi then hit the post in the third minute of the second half before Barker equalised two minutes later, firing into the roof of the net from outside the area.
Kitchee’s Christian Annan and Manchester City striker Thierry Ambrose both had one-on-one chances in a fast-paced end to a thrilling game, but Barker was the hero after cutting in from the left side of the area and curling in a right-footed shot inside the far post with just a minute left.
Barker, 17, was named Player of the Tournament ahead of several leading candidates including teammate Ambrose and Aston Villa starlet Jack Grealish, who finished the event as top scorer with six goals.
Barker was confident his team could come back against Kitchee, the tournament’s 2011 winners and who recently won their third First Division title in four seasons.
“I just knew it was going to happen, to be honest,” said Barker, who scored four goals in the tournament. “It’s a great set of lads and we’ve done it in the end. It was a great experience and something very different. The weather’s a bit hot, but you have to deal with that.
“It was gutting losing the Premier League final, but obviously we’ve won another piece of silverware.”
Grealish, 18, was the star of the Shield final as Aston Villa beat Scottish giants Rangers 3-1. Villa were one of the pre-tournament favourites, but the five-time winners lost 1-0 to Sunderland in the Cup quarter-finals.
Leicester City, the 2013 Cup champions, beat BC Rangers 2-0 to win the third-tier Plate.
Jari Litmanen was named Player of the Tournament in the Masters as Aegon Ajax All Stars regained the Cup they won in 2012, beating USRC 1-0 with a strike by Olaf Lindbergh in extra-time, in which teams play four-a-side and win with a golden goal.
“When we are playing we want to entertain and enjoy. When you’re in the final, you have two choices – you either lose or you win, so I rather we win than we lose,” said Litmanen, who was also part of the team beaten 2-1 by Rangers Legends in last year’s final.
“Last year we lost with more or less the same team and now we’ve won it. It’s nice to have finished like this. In the past three years, Ajax has won twice and lost one final so I think we’ve done a good job.”
Citibank has title sponsored the event since 2011 and other sponsors this year include British Airways, Nike, Aegon, The Excelsior, Tsingtao and Boase Cohen & Collins.