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Zhang takes SC to victory

Zhang Chunhui saved his best for Spurs as South China took the honours in Sunday's friendly in Hong Kong.

Zhang Chunhui saved his best for Spurs as South China took the honours in Sunday's friendly in Hong Kong.

The home goalkeeper produced a string of fine saves to frustrate us in the heat of the magnificent Hong Kong National Stadium.

Those frustrations were furthered by a poor penalty decision given against Jake Livermore - who simply stood his ground in the area and was run into by Chao Peng Fei - and a 2-0 lead was enough for the organised home side in conditions hardly suited to chasing a game.

Chan Siu Ki had a dart through on goal in the eighth minute before quickly becoming entangled with the defensive pairing of Pascal Chimbonda and Jake Livermore, the South China player ending up grounded.

Our first effort on goal came on 15 minutes when Roman Pavlyuchenko tried his luck from 20 yards, Zhang Chunhui fielded fairly comfortably. Danny Rose, operating at left-back, later fizzed over a low cross that the propelled head of Jon Obika could not quite reach.

John Bostock unleashed a rasping drive that Zhang did well to push over the bar before an Obika cutback ran into the path of Alan Hutton, whose goalbound shot was blocked.

Pavlyuchenko then forced another save out of Zhang from a piledriver launched from outside the area.

The half was a little sluggish, but the stifling conditions with very high humidity must have made an increased tempo approach an unlikely option.

There was however an increase in attacking players on the pitch at the beginning of the second half when Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe took the places of Hutton and Jermaine Jenas. Heurelho Gomes replaced Carlo Cudicini.

Keane took up position in central midfield, Obika went wide right, Kyle Naughton dropped in at right-back, with Defoe partnering Pavlyuchenko up front.

The deadlock was broken in the 52nd minute when Chan seized on a bouncing ball and struck a sliced shot from 25 yards. The spin of the ball took it arrowing towards the top corner and, despite Gomes getting fingertips to the effort, it was quickly nestling in the back of the net.

Defoe spun inside the area and created himself a clear shooting opportunity but couldn't keep his shot down before Keane latched on to a high ball from Jamie O'Hara and clipped onto the upright.

Jake Livermore came together with Chao Peng Fei in the 68th minute and won the ball. Referee Mr Ng, to the disbelief of the team, pointed to the penalty spot and the captain Li Haiqiang dinked his spotkick past Gomes to double the home advantage.

Gomes prevented a third with 15 minutes left on the clock, thwarting a swift counter-attack and shot from Chao that saw four attackers against two defenders.

Zhang saved well from Pavlyuchenko and then denied substitute Aaron Lennon, fittingly the last serious action of the game.

Team: Cudicini (Gomes 46), Hutton (Keane 46), Rose, Chimbonda, Livermore, Naughton, Jenas (Defoe 46), O'Hara, Bostock, Pavlyuchenko (Modric 82), Obika (Lennon 69).