Vol. 5 Num 5 Tue. June 01, 2004  

Milan suffer HK surprise

Italian Serie A champions AC Milan were dealt a humiliating blow when they lost 2-1 to unheralded Hong Kong club Kitchee in an exhibition match on Sunday.

Although missing most of their star players who were either on international duty or were unavailable for the match, AC Milan were left red-faced against a local side, who finished runners-up in the local league.

Indonesian striker Rochi Putiray did the damage to the Italian side, finding the net in the 67th and 80th minutes as Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti's men put up a lacklustre performance before a crowd of disbelieving 17,000 spectators.

Ancelotti maintained a brave face despite the shock result.

"It's never pleasant to lose. The most important thing was to give the spectators a good game and I think we have achieved this objective. There are always surprises in football," said Ancelotti.

The 33-year-old Putriray was overjoyed by his team's unexpected win, which ranks among the club's finest.

"I really didn't expect this kind of result. It's a total dream to have scored two goals against a side like AC Milan. I am really happy that I was given the chance to play against this side. I have to thank my coach Ricky Cheng for believing in me."

Kitchee, who were strengthened by guest players Luis Boa Morte from Fulham and ex-Real Madrid defender Predrag Mijatovic among others, put up a lion's performance against their more heralded opponents, who toiled in the heat.

"Certainly the heat affected us, especially towards the end of the match," Ancelotti said.

The local side's mainland goalkeeper Xiao Guoji had an outstanding game as he pulled off a string of saves in the first half.

He came to his side's rescue in the 32nd minute when he kept out Cristian Brocchi's powerful 15-metre shot before being called into action again two minutes before the break, stopping Marco Borriello's close-range effort.

But Xiao's best save came at the stroke of half-time when he stopped a venomous Shevchenko 18-metre drive.

Shevchenko finally overcame Kitchee's stubborn defence when he opened the scoring three minutes in to the second half when he headed home Serginho's cross.

The 27-year-old Ukrainian, who recently signed an extended contract that will keep him with the Serie A champions until 2009, was always a danger, but the Italian giants were unable to breach Kitchee's defence again.

Putriray found the equaliser in the 67th minute, sliding home Luis Boa Morte's right-wing cross before striking again 10 minutes before the final whistle after prodding home the ball from a Cheung Kin-fung left-wing cross to complete a famous victory for the local side.

AC Milan's Andrei Shevchenko brushes off a challenge by two players of Hong Kong side Kitchee in their exhibition game at the Hong Kong Stadium on 30 May. PHOTO: AFP