Soccer-Orr's header maintains Kitchee's knockout round hopes

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By Michael Church

(Reuters) - Hong Kong champions Kitchee kept their hopes of a place in the knockout rounds of the Asian Champions League alive on Tuesday when Matt Orr's header earned them a 1-1 draw with Port FC at Buriram Stadium.

The draw means Alex Chu's side remain in second place in Group J with one game to play and a win over leaders Cerezo Osaka on Friday could be enough to take Kitchee into the last 16.

Cerezo lead the group by three points after handing Guangzhou FC a 5-0 loss but, with head-to-head records used in the event of a tie, a 2-0 victory or a single goal win in a high scoring game would take Kitchee through.

Only the group winners are guaranteed to advance while the runners-up will have to wait to see the outcome of the other four groups being played in east Asia before knowing if they will advance as one of the three best runners-up.

Orr kept Kitchee in contention with a glancing header 18 minutes into the meeting with Port to cancel out Pakorn Parmpek's free kick from five minutes earlier.

The result ends Port's hopes of finishing in the top two in their debut appearance in the continental championship.

Cerezo maintained their grip on top spot with a 5-0 thrashing of Guangzhou FC that kept the Japanese club unbeaten so far.

Levir Culpi's side struggled in front of goal until Mutsuki Kato struck with a volleyed effort that beat Zhang Jianzi in the 33rd minute.

Taishi Matsumoto doubled the lead eight minutes after the restart before substitute Tiago Pagnussat headed home with a quarter of the game remaining.

Matsumoto netted his second of the game five minutes later and Kato completed the rout in stoppage time as Cerezo dominated the inexperienced Chinese side.

Matches in the eastern half of this year's Asian Champions League are being played in biosecure hubs in Thailand and Uzbekistan with the western half of the draw already completed in April.

The last 16 matches will be played from Sept. 14 to 16 while the quarter-finals and semi-finals will be held in October. The final is slated for Nov. 23.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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