Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thai Clubs Fightback to Earn AFC Draws

Vegalta Sendai 1-1 Buriram United

Defender Osmar Ibanez's 76th minute header secured a point for Buriram United in their opening AFC encounter at Vegalta Sendai.

The game was played on a bitterly cold night and it was fair to say that the first half was at best lukewarm as a spectacle. Buriram's defence lead by Osmar defended well limiting Vegalta to only a couple of shots that flew wide while Anawin and Bustos had half chances at the other end.

Whatever the homeside had with their half time sake seemed to work as they came out fired up. Muto should have opened the scoring four minutes into the half, but he miscued wide when he should really have scored.

Shortly afterwards, Vegalta were awarded a penalty after the ball deflected on to Osmar's arm via his face. It was slightly harsh but the referee from Hong Kong probably made the right call.

Ryang Yong Gi hit the penalty low to Siwarak's right to score despite the Buriram keeper getting a hand to it.

Within a minute of the goal, Anthony spurned a great chance when he failed to convert a free header from Theeratorn's cross. 

The Japanese side started to look dangerous on the counter attack and Siwarak thwarted a couple of their breaks with sprightly saves to keep the Thai side in the contest.

Buriram must have been thankful for their keeper's saves as Osmar levelled on 76 minutes. The big Spaniard glanced home Theeratorn's pinpoint corner to silence the Sendai Ultras inside the Yurtec Stadium.

Buriram kept it tight and held out for a deserved point. Apart from a 20 minute spell at the beginning of the second half, the Thai side more than matched their more illustrious opponents.

Next up for Buriram will be a home game in warmer conditions against FC Seoul who spanked Jiangsu Sainty 5-1.

Muangthong United 2-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Muangthong United twice came from behind to ensure that the spoils were shared at the Thunderdome.

The home side set themselves up rather cautiously, yet they were dealt an early blow when Panupong was unluckily penalised for a trip on Sangmin. The Iranian referee pointed to the spot and the veteran Lee Dong Gook stepped up to smash low and hard past Weera in the sixth minute.

Teerasil should have done better five minutes later when he blasted a great chance over the bar after he'd latched onto a through ball.

Despite the early set back, the Thai champions were still content to sit back allowing the Koreans to control the play and possession.

When they did eventually come out of their shell, Muangthong forced a couple of chances from Djurovski free kicks. First up, Yoo Jin flicked narrowly past the post while Pichitphong forced Eun Sung to make a low save following a beautifully rehearsed free kick.

Weera finally made his first real save on 37 minutes as he spectacularly tipped over a goal bound Lee Dong Gook header.

On the stroke of half time, the hosts were awarded a penalty after Teerasil was bundled over in the box by Kyuro. Mario Djurovski then nonchalantly dinked the ball down the center over the Jeonbuk keeper who'd sold himself a fraction too early. 

After the break, Linz was pushed forward and had a couple of headed efforts in the opening ten minutes of the half. The first was headed straight at Eun Sung, but the second following a corner hit the side of the post with the keeper beaten.

The game then settled down for a period and it appeared that both sides would have gladly settled for a point.

Kevin Oris celebrates
That changed on 77 minutes when Kevin Oris towered above a cluster of players to nod home a hanging freekick to put Jeonbuk back into the lead.

As time was running out, Muangthong brought on Weerawut and Sarawut in a bid to salvage the game. With two minutes left on the clock, Weerawut won a corner. From the resultant dead ball, Yoo Jin ran from the back post to guide the ball home even though there were hints of a deflection off a Jeonbuk defender.

Weera still had to be alert in injury time to save a left footed shot from Hyuk as Muangthong grabbed a deserved point.

In the other group game, the Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande comfortably beat Urawa Reds 3-0. Muangthong will travel to Japan in a fortnight hoping to inflict more misery on Urawa Reds.

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