Unforeseen turn of events in Group E

Kashima Antlers travelled to Brisbane with a sterling opportunity to get a firm grip of one of the play-off spots in Group E, a win against Roar would have put the Japanese side four or five points ahead of third place, depending on the result between Muangtong United and Ulsan Hyundai later in the evening. It was, however, John Aloisi’s men who scored the only goal of the first half as Jamie Maclaren took advantage of some sloppy defending and hammered the ball past Kwoun Sun-Tae. And only four minutes after the break, former Aston Villa winger Brett Holman added to Roar’s tally, pouncing on a loose ball following what looked to be a failed free-kick routine. Antlers did regain hope with just over 10 minutes of regular time to go, the ball in from the left made it’s way to Ryota Nagaki who was left to roll it into an open net and breathe life back into the match, but the Australians held on to record their first win of the campaign.

In the closing event of the evening, Ulsan Hyundai got to head to Bangkok and join in the Thai New Year celebrations when visiting Muangthong United. The match got off to a slow start, displaying two sides to whom a defeat would be detrimental to the prospect of progression to the next round. However, the home team had a breakthrough in the 37th minute as left back, Theeraton Bunmathan, crossed the ball towards the far post, finding Mongkol Tossakrai who, in turn, headed the ball across the goal to an unmarked Teerasil Dangda. The Thai international made no mistake, faced with the simple task of putting the ball into an open net and his team ahead. Ulsan, having 73% of possession in the first half, accelerated somewhat, but posed no real threat before the break.
The guest came out for the second half, determined to get back into the match, but only five minutes after the break, the home side should have doubled its lead twice already. First Xisco was played through but barely hit the ball, after Bunmathan open up space with a couple of lovely technical displays in midfield, and then Tossakrai was left alone to finish off an exemplary attacking move. Kim Yong-Dae had no problem keeping Ulsan in the game though, as the winger made a poor attempt at finding the back of the net. It was only 59 minutes the match, and Dangda had seen a decent volley blocked, when the visiting goalkeeper and Tossakrai faced off once again and, just as with the previous chance, Kim came out on top. With ten minutes to go Xisco, not having a very good game, missed another chance right in front of goal with his final effort of the day, before being substituted by Adisak Krasikorn. The substitute soon had a golden opportunity to put the match beyond doubt, but found himself going to wide in an attempt to round the keeper and saw his shot cleared for a corner. Ulsan finished by producing a massive final push for the equaliser but Muangthong kept the Koreans at bay and earned a thoroughly deserved win. The Thais can now join in the Songkran celebrations as surprising group leaders, in need of only two more points to reach the play offs.

Group E, as of tonight:
Muangthong United              8p        +2
Kashima Antlers                      6p        +3
Ulsan Hyundai                          4p        +3
Brisbane Roar                           4p        -8

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