Thailand’s Chiangrai United has lost 2-1 it match against two-time champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at the 2021 AFC Champions League campaign on the opening day of Group H of the competition at Bunyodkor Stadium on Friday.
The AFC win took Jeonbuk level on points with Japan’s Gamba Osaka – who defeated Singapore’s Tampines Rovers earlier on Friday.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors opened the scoring 10 minutes before the first break after Lee Yong’s cross from the right was cleared by the defence but only as far as Takahiro Kunimoto who cushioned a header to set up Lee Seung-gi who hit it on the volley into the back of the net for the opener.
Coach Kim Sang-sik’s men thought they had doubled their lead after a well-worked attacking combination saw the ball fed to Kim Seung-dae with only the goalkeeper to beat, which Kim was able to do but a heroic piece of defending by Brazilian defender Brinner helped Chiangrai United survive as he cleared the ball off the line.
Chiangrai United failed to respond
Chiangrai United’s best chance of the half came in the final minute from a Cho effort that passed just wide of the Korean goal.
Chiangrai United’s goalkeeper Apirak Worawong showed his quality to deny Gustavo early after the restart as Jeonbuk’ Brazilian striker exchanged passes with Choi Young-jun who sent him through on goal, but the goalkeeper rushed out and smothered his effort.
It was only a matter of minutes later before Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors found themselves in a scoring position once more. Thai defender Sanukran Thinjom brought Kunimoto down inside the penalty area, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Gustavo stepped up and slotted home his side’s second of the night in the 52nd minute.
Chiangrai United looked to respond instantly and nearly did so as Sivakorn Tiatrakul collected Sanukran Thinjom’s pass on the edge of the box, turning and firing a low drive that forced goalkeeper Lee Bum-young into a fine save to tip it behind for a corner.
A poor defensive clearance left substitute Ekanit Panya with the simplest of tasks as the ball fell to him seven yards out with the goalkeeper in no man’s land and the Thai international duly delivered, halving the deficit in the 68th minute.
Bill was left oblivious seconds later as he broke free, rounded the goalkeeper and aimed for goal, but with the angle tightening, his left-footed effort crawled agonizingly close on the wrong side of the upright.
The Thai side were unable to find a second goal as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors walked away with the three points to start their journey with a win that places them second behind Gamba Osaka on goal difference before the two sides face-off in three days’ time.