Aston Villa lifted the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Cup for a tournament-leading sixth time as a 2-0 final victory over West Ham United on Sunday completed a 100% record, while English Premier League winners Leicester City and Stoke City also claimed silverware at Hong Kong Football Club.
Goals from the competition’s top scorer Harry McKirdy and striker Rushian Hepburn-Murphy secured Aston Villa their first HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens title since claiming their then record fifth in 2010.
Gordon Cowans’ Aston Villa won all three games in the group stage on Saturday before returning in fine form on Sunday to see off Japan’s Kashima Antlers 3-1 in the last eight and defeat New Zealand’s Wellington Phoenix 2-0 in the semi-finals before condemning West Ham to a second successive final defeat.
“It’s brilliant, we’ve won every game and only conceded one goal,” said McKirdy, who netted six goals to claim the top scorer accolade.
“All the boys have been unbelievable; we were the best team here so we deserved what we got.”
Aston Villa reeled off five HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens wins between 2002 and 2010, although had suffered quarter-final defeats in the past three years.
“We performed very well in the whole tournament and I feel very proud of the team,” said Aston Villa captain and HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens MVP Khalid Abdo.
Leicester suffered a 2-1 defeat to Wellington in the quarter-finals, but went on to claim a penalty shootout victory over Kashima in the semi-finals of the Shield before winning the second-tier competition following a thrilling 3-2 victory over Hong Kong Premier League champions Eastern.
“We’re happy to win the game because we made it difficult for ourselves by conceding two goals when we were two up,” said Leicester striker Admiral Muskwe after his match-winning strike against Eastern.
“We’ve under achieved, but after losing this afternoon we’ve done well to win this.”
And after being eliminated in the group stage on Saturday, Stoke rebounded on Sunday to claim the Plate with wins over Singapore Cricket Club, Hong Kong Football Club and crucially Hong Kong Football Association U-21s in the final.
“We’re happy to win the Plate, but we’d rather be winning the main competition,” said Stoke captain Lewis Banks.
“Overall we’re a bit disappointed, but we’ve definitely improved on last year and we definitely want to come back next year and get out of the group stage.”
Meanwhile, in the Masters Tournament, Citi All Stars wrapped up their first ever title with a 3-1 victory over 2015 champions USRC in the final.
Former Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Thompson scored two stunning goals before Deon Burton sealed the win for Citi All Stars.
“I chipped the keeper from the halfway line – it was unbelievable and one of the best goals I’ve ever scored,” said Thompson, who was named the Masters tournament’s MVP.
“We’ve got the quality, once we put in the application teams can’t cope. I 100% want to come back again next year.”
Citi All Stars lost their first group match on Friday, but responded by winning three successive games to progress to the semi-finals, where they defeated Hong Kong Football Club Chairman’s Select 1-0 on Sunday before edging a thrilling final against USRC.
“The first game we lost, so people thought we came here just to have a good time, but from then on we won every game,” said former Liverpool and Czech Republic midfielder Patrik Berger.
“We came here as a team, we won as a team. It’s an awesome tournament with great organisation; if I’m invited again, I’ll come back.”
Finally, Yau Yee League Masters defeated Kowloon Cricket Club Veterans on penalties after a goalless draw in the final to lift the Masters Plate.