May 30, 2015: Australian striker Kwabena Appiah scored a hat-trick as newcomers Wellington Phoenix smashed five-time champions Aston Villa 4-1 to finish top of Group C and cruise into the Cup quarter-finals.
Appiah, part of the Western Sydney Wanderers squad that won last year’s AFC Champions League, ran rampant against a Villa side who left themselves exposed trying to get back into the game.
Teenager Logan Rogerson rounded off the scoring against Villa, with striker Jerell Sellars bagging his third goal of the group stage.
Gordon Cowans’ men still progressed to the Cup quarter-finals in second place with four points.
Sellars, who also played in 2013, helped them rescue a 1-1 draw against Hong Kong Football Club in the club’s opener and scored again in the 1-0 win over HKFA U-18.
West Ham topped Group C with five points following a 1-0 win over HKFC Captain’s Select, with star striker Djair Parfitt-Williams setting up Janaai Gordon for the winner.
The Hammers drew 0-0 with Shanghai SIPG and then maintained top spot with a 1-1 draw with Kitchee, when Parfitt-Williams scored, had a penalty saved and missed a glorious chance just seven yards out from goal.
Hong Kong champions Kitchee only secured second place in Group B after returning for a four-a-side sudden-death playoff against Shanghai SIPG, with Kim Tae-min scoring the winner. Both teams finished level on three points and had matching goals for and against.