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Analysis: Tai Po execute game plan to perfection

Friday, April 5, 2019

Hong Kong: Wofoo Tai Po secured a dramatic 4-2 victory over fellow Hong Kong side Kitchee SC on Wednesday to claim their first ever AFC Cup win.

The three points ensured a positive start to their Group I campaign as well as striking a blow against their domestic rivals.

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Tai Po’s sharpshooters on target

Possession counts for little without penetration and Tai Po demonstrated that they could make better use of the possession they had with more decisive contributions in attack.

The home side may have made almost twice the number of passes and had 63 percent possession, but the Tai Po attack’s shooting accuracy of 60 percent was a more important statistic.

The table above shows that both sides had a decent number of efforts on goal, but two goals from 19 shots was a poor return from Kitchee while Tai Po found the net with almost 50 percent of their chances.

Kitchee will be left to ponder how they lost a game in which they enjoyed so much of the ball, while Tai Po will hope to continue the good attacking work on Matchday Two.

Kitchee’s high line leaves them exposed

Possession statistics might suggest that this was a smash-and-grab win from the visiting team but Tai Po by no means parked the bus and waited for their opportunity on the break.

The graphic below demonstrates how Tai Po’s attacking players (in dark discs) were consistently putting pressure on the home defence, with Igor Sartori (18) and Harrison Sawyer (14) posing particular problems on the left-hand side.

The two late goals came from these positions as the Kitchee backline was exposed to runners in behind them.

The Tai Po defence sat deeper than the hosts and this saw them beaten just twice – once from a rebound and once from a fortuitous deflection.

Although the visitors let a two-goal lead slip, the end result justified the means and indicated that Tai Po came with the better game plan and executed it effectively.

Sartori’s style makes the difference

Igor Sartori’s distribution may not have been the most impressive, with just 65 percent of his passes finding their target. But the Brazilian’s contributions certainly mattered as he came up with a goal and an assist at key moments in the match.

Sartori’s driving run and shot put his side 2-0 up early in the second half but the momentum was very much with the home side when they levelled the score with four minutes remaining.

But just two minutes later, Sartori’s slide-rule pass released Chung Wai Keung, who slotted home to put the visitors back in front.

Sartori’s passing matrix (above) demonstrates the positive contributions he made and there were four key passes (in yellow), highlighting his ability to find the right ball in the right area.

In what was a thrilling derby match, Sartori’s skills stood out and ultimately gave Tai Po the edge.

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