In a stunning performance, Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng regained the prestigious Hun Sen Cup after outplaying fierce rivals NagaWorld for a 3-0 win at Olympic Stadium in a showdown the visitors from the province dominated.
A first-half brace from Sok Samnang, whose speed of foot exposed Naga inertia at the back, set Svay Rieng on the way to end the contest in style through Hoy Phallin’s long-range drive just past the hour.
There were some flashes of individual brilliance from the casino-backed outfit but they missed some gilt-edged chances, with the crossbar also denying them.
Svay Rieng’s free-flowing approach was rewarded as early as the 21st minute when Samnang caught a Naga defender and keeper Samrith Seiha slow to react to his dash into the box.
Ten minutes later it was almost a replay of sorts as he cut in from the left to complete his brace with the defence again outwitted.
Naga mounted a fightback to get into the game, often taking the central route to try to unlock the Svay Rieng defence. But PKR’s response to these counters proved adequate, although they needed a spot of luck at least twice to avoid conceding.
This was Svay Rieng’s fourth success following triumphs in 2011, 2012 and 2015, when they also beat Naga in the final, 2-1 on that occasion with a last-gasp winner.
Last year, Svay Rieng suffered a heartbreaking 6-5 loss to the National Defence Ministry in a penalty shootout.
Naga’s only success came in 2013 and the team has now been on the wrong side of a final no less than five times.
EdC take third
In their first season at the top tier of domestic football Electricite du Cambodge downed recent league-toppers Boeung Ket 5-4 in a penalty shootout to claim a creditable third place in the Hun Sen Cup.
The Electricitymen delivered the shock of the season by forcing a 1-1 deadlock through a stoppage time penalty as Boeung Ket were moments away from victory with a long-held but slender lead.
But once the teams got down to the shootout, the script took an incredible twist.
The third Boeung Ket spot-kick was saved by the EdC keeper and the rest was all about the newcomers keeping their nerve under intense pressure, which they did to win by the barest of margins.
EdC’s spirited show in the double leg semifinals against eventual winners Svay Rieng and their toppling of league championship finalists Boeung Ket in the third place playoff will go down as some of the highlights of the year.