Entertaining leg 1 in Jeonju as the Asian Champions League title match finally underway, much anticipation as Jeonbuk sought to amend the record after nearly winning the Asian title in 2011. Despite losing to Seoul in the last day of domestic competition (and 9 point deduction for a bribery verdict), Jeonbuk dusted themselves off to restart the green machine offense and grab a vital 2:1 win. However, dodgy defending nearly toppled Jeonbuk in the heart of the 2nd half, Omar Adulrahman terrorizing the backline and with space given away centrally, found Asprilla to give the UAE club the lead. How did Jeonbuk stage the comeback? Stay with us after the jump…
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) November 19, 2016
But a bit about the 1st half, Al Ain wasn’t afraid to take the game to Jeonbuk, got off a dangerous shot that drifted over the crossbar within 60 seconds of the start. Jeonbuk’s offense started to assert control of the pitch, generating some dangerous chances of their own, including an excellent build up, concluding with Lopez laying off for Kim Bo-Kyung, his shot never hit with conviction, harmlessly dribbled to keeper Khalid Essa.
A tense, physical battle throughout ended scoreless by HT. Some questionable non calls by the ref – surely yellow card violations – went unheeded. That set the wild west tempo throughout. There were 2 clear fouls in Al Ain’s area, both waived off.
Choi Kang-Hee’s long ball to the Wookie’s approach didn’t appear to bother Al Ain terribly too much.
2nd half proceeded similarly, great chances by both sides to score until Asprilla dealt what could’ve been a demoralizing goal that exposed Jeonbuk’s defense. However, Jeonbuk seemed resolved to find the equalizer, Lee Dong-Guk’s inclusion, subbing in for Kimbo rather energized the squad. his ball to find Leonardo was the right call. He juked 2 defenders on the corner of the area, cut inside and blasted a shot to the top left corner of the net to equalize. Jeonbuk was back and the Jeonju crowd renewed the chants and drumming to a full blast.
Lee Dong-Guk would prove vital again, his cross to find the Wookie was right on target. The only problem, 2 defenders pulling him down to prevent the dangerous header to find an empty net. Penalty finally awarded – so clearly – there left no doubt. Leonardo fooled the keeper to go left, his shot went right and converts the shot. Jeonbuk would never let go of the tentative lead, though Al Ain, with Lee Myong-ju curling in a dangerous shot of his own to force a save from Soon Tae-Kwon, kept pressing for their own equalizer.
FT: decent result but the away goal conceded will give Al Ain hope in the return leg next Saturday.
Extra time : Lee Jae-Sung was hardly mentioned in my recap but was pernicious and vital in keeping Jeonbuk ticking.
(We’ll be back)…