Hong Kong takes football gold at East Asian Games

Hong Kong enjoyed one if its biggest successes at the East Asian Games on Saturday when its football team beat Japan in the final to cap a day that included a handful of other gold medals for the host.
Cheered on by Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang and a capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat stadium, Wong Chin-hung scored the winning penalty as Hong Kong defeated Japan 4-2 in a shootout following a 1-1 draw after regulation and extra time.
The hosts beat South Korea in group play and North Korea in the semifinals.
"I want to thank all our players. They were ready to die for Hong Kong," coach Kim Pan-gon said. "It was a great night."
It was seen as one of the biggest athletic victories this city of 7 million people has had since its only Olympic gold 13 years ago, when Lee Lai-shan won in women's surfing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Football is the most popular sport in the now semiautonomous Chinese territory, with fanatic fans frequently staying up until early in the morning to catch English Premier League, La Liga and other European fixtures.
The Japanese had taken the lead midway through the first half when Yuya Osako played back a corner across the goal and Taisuke Muramatsu netted with a right-foot shot.
But Hong Kong leveled just two minutes before the break through substitute Chan Siu-ki.
In the penalty shootout, Hong Kong captain Au Yeung Yiu-cheng missed his team's first attempt, but goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai then saved from Shohei Otsuka before Japanese defender Daisuke Suzuki sent his effort wide.
In other sports, three Hong Kong riders swept the podium in the men's individual road race. The local squash team wrapped up a formidable campaign with all-Hong Kong finals in the men's, women's and mixed doubles, guaranteeing it all seven golds in the event. In windsurfing, Hong Kongers took three of the four golds on offer.
The strong results by Hong Kong was partly helped by the fact that Asian powerhouses like China, Japan and South Korea aren't fielding their top athletes.
Still, the games' top organizer thinks the event is a watershed moment for the territory.
"For the first time, I think Hong Kong is experiencing a sports culture," said Timothy Fok, chairman of the East Asian Games committee and president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee.
"Everyone in the past thinks of Hong Kong as a financial capital with high-rise buildings, but we have proved that sport is an important element of society," Fok said. "The games is about the athletes, and the Hong Kong team as host has risen to the occasion."
Earlier Saturday, Chinese sprinters Su Bingtian and Tao Yujia held off Japanese rival to take the men's and women's 100-meter sprint titles. China also won in the women's 1,500 meters and the women's hammer throw.
But Japan found winning form in other track and field events, taking gold in the men's and women's 400-meter hurdles, the men's discus, the men's pole vault and the men's 1,500 meters and 10,000 meters.
South Korea's Jung Hye-kyung came first in the women's triple jump.