Muangthong United have taken control of Group-E in the AFC Champions League with a solid performance and 1-0 win over Ulsan Hyundai at the Muangthong United stadium. The lone goal came from Teerasil Dangda at the 36th minute, and supported with fine defending from Celio Santos (man-of-the-match) and Naoaki Aoyama.
Head Coach Totchtawan was able to start a strong team, rotating Mongkol and Ratchapol into the midfield, as well Lee ho was able to start this match, whereas last time he entered as a sub against his old team. Both teams were tired from recent league games, however Ulsan Hyundai were not as used to the heat, and had come off the long journey from Korea.
Said Coach Totchtawan after the match, "Playing at our home stadium was also a big advantage. Our fans pile the pressure on the other team, while encouraging us to do our best."
As in the first game between these teams, the squads were evenly matched and much of the play was in the midfield, with pressure being put on the ball quickly. Ulsan Hyundai were to have the first attempt at goal about the 11th minute with a shot from outside the box that dribbled well wide of the target, the Ulsan captain, Lee Jong-Ho, who missed the first leg match, making his presence felt.
Moments later a free kick awarded the Kirin shortly after Chanathip was brought down from behind by Jaeyoung led to a rush on goal, but the Ulsan keeper was out to smother the pass.
By the 20th minute Ulsan were able to threaten down their right side, and a long ball set up a dangerous looking cross into the box that required Kawin to be sharp. A succession of corner kicks followed, however the Kirin defenders were first to the ball for the clearance.
Ulsan were given a free kick right at the edge of the box after the referee considered the attempted challenge for the header against the Kirin. The prime scoring moment was lost however with the attempt lifted over the bar.
Then at 30 minutes came the best attempt for the Kirin so far in the half when Tristan Do's cross was headed to Xisco, and his turning-kick just slightly above the bar.
The momentum continued, and the Kirin pressure paid off at 36 minutes with Teerasil knocking in the ball at the far post. The play came about from Theeraton's cross, which Mongkol Thosakrai headed to the other side of the six yard box for a waiting Teerasil to score.
The second half began at an even faster pace as both teams threatened within the first two minutes.
The Kirin had the better chance, as some fancy footwork from Theerathon opened up passes to Xisco for a run at goal. Though Mongkol was racing to the far post, Xisco elected to shoot, the attempt wide of target.
Though the Kirin were to have a few good chances, at 62 minutes Lee Ho handled the ball after being knocked down and was yellow carded. The resulting free kick was a screamer, and even though it was from distance Kawin had to move fast to knock it out for the corner.
The Kirin were in a similar free kick situation a few moments later. Theerathon lifted the ball in for Xisco, and the keeper had to be sharp to smother the ball before the tap in.
Muangthong were to create several good scoring chances as the half progressed, with Teerasil and Chanathip playing in clever passes to the box, with the Ulsan Hyundai keeper and defenders forced into big saves to keep the score close.
Head Coach Totchtawan Sripan brought in national team striker Adisak Kraisorn at the 81st minute, with Xisco relieved of play. A few moments later Adisak took Teerasil's through ball to the net, beating the keeper, but only to be denied with another strong defensive effort from the Ulsan fullbacks.
Ulsan Hyundai, feeling time slip away, upped the effort. With the pressure mounting, Tristan Do clumsily handled the ball at the edge the box, setting up a valuable scoring chance for the Koreans at the 90th minute. Once again, the strike was well over the bar and the chance was lost.
With superb performances from both Celio and Naoaki Aoyama in the closing minutes to shut down the last moment rally, the Kirin are now in first place in the AFC Champions League Group E. The next champions match is April 26th, when Australia's Brisbane Roar visit Bangkok.