Just three days after losing 5-0 to the same opposition, Chiangrai United stunned the Koreans thanks to their Brazilian striker, who opened the scoring late in the first half, then poked home an 89th minute winner to keep Thailand’s only representative alive in the competition at the AFC Champions League in Doha, Qatar.
The result blows Group E wide open. Seoul remain in second place on six points, with Melbourne Victory and Chiangrai United both three points adrift with two matches remaining.
Seoul made just one change to the line-up which had piled on the goals on Tuesday, but the 2019 Thai League champions were a far different proposition in the first half, settling well after a difficult start, then increasingly creating chances of their own,
Their first opportunity came when Akarawin Sawasdee sent a long-range effort whistling not too far off target, and Seoul breathed a sigh of relief once again when Sanukram Thinjon’s cross flashed wide of the net, when only a touch from Bill would have surely produced Chiangrai’s first ACL goal in the 39th minute.
But Chiangrai, and Bill, wouldn’t be denied, and the history-making breakthrough came in the following minute, with the Brwzilian smashing the ball into the roof of the net at the second attempt, Seoul goalkeeper Yu Sang-hun having saved his initial effort after some terrific wing play by Ekanit Panya.
Chiangrai actively chased a would-be winner
The unfancied Thais had their crucial breakthrough, but they very nearly squandered it even before half-time with some last-ditch defending from Brinner bailing out Apirak Worawong after the goalkeeper had needlessly given away possession in the final third.
Apirak put himself back in the spotlight for all the right reasons in the 53rd minute, when he saved Park Chu-young’s timid penalty after the Seoul captain had been clumsily fouled by Shinnaphat Leeaoh.
Despite that squandered chance, FC Seoul continued their hunt for an equalizer with a noticeable increase in intensity, and it came as little surprise when their leveler arrived in the 59th minute, when Park made amends for penalty miss by nodding home a Han Seung-gyu corner kick, with Apirak finding himself in the no man’s land after failing to claim the ball.
With a point of minimal value to either, both FC Seoul and Chiangrai actively chased a would-be winner in the dying minutes, and it was Bill who provided it, poking home Siakorn Tiatakrul’s careful cross to secure a famous victory for his club.
Their Round of 16 hopes at the AFC Champions League revitalized, Chiangrai will face Melbourne Victory on Monday, with Seoul set to meet group leaders Beijing FC.