The match kicked off at very low pace, both sides looking mainly focused on not losing as Frontale were patient in their build up and Muangthong seemed hell bent on not falling out of their defensive positions. The first decent opportunity came after about 22 minutes of play as Rhayner broke through for the visitors, only to see the shot blocked by his countryman Célio. The Brazilian had an even better chance only two minutes later but his poor finish failed to cause Kawin Thammasatchanon any problems. The game was finally opening up as the Japanese side became more comfortable and upped the tempo. Unfortunately, the change was only temporary and it was soon back to slow, sideways football with little show of intent from either outfit.
In the 38th minute, Chanatip Songkrasin was left with acres of space in Frontale’s box for Muangthong’s first real chance of the evening. However, the Thai-international fired well over Jung Sung-Ryong’s crossbar. After that, little of interest happened and it looked destined to stay goalless until the end of the first half but, out of nowhere, Teerasil Dangda found a little bit of space a few metres outside the penalty area and fired a distinct, low shot into the far corner to put the hosts ahead just before the break.
The goal brought back most of the confidence lost in Muangthong’s two defeats last week and they came out determined to add to their tally. Célio reached a well taken free-kick after only four minutes of play but headed wide from inside the 6-yard box. The enthusiasm lasted for a few more minutes but then, Frontale found their footing again. The game was now much more open and within 15 minutes there had been more chances both ways than during the first 45.
In the 66th minute Naoaki Aoyama failed to reach a header from substitute Yu Kobayashi and the ball found Kengo Nakamura who brought it down and, in alone with Kawin, made no mistake. Muangthong claimed it was handball but the goal stood, and, soon, it was all turned around. This time Kobayashi did it himself with a beautifully taken volley into the top corner and Frontale were in front after 69 minutes played.
The home-side managed to stay focused and start chasing the equaliser instantly, Célio had another opportunity inside the 6-yard box following a corner, and this time hit the goal, but was easily thwarted by Jung with a quarter of an hour left to play. The Thais gave it a good go but became exposed at the back, leading to Yu Kobayashi setting up another goal, as he found Hiroyuki Abe on the far post only minutes before the final whistle. Now, Frontale certainly seem to have this wrapped up halfway into the round.
In the other match this evening, things went according to plan as Guangzhou Evergrande beat Kashima Antlers. The only goal came from a corner that reached Paulinho, who was left with an easy tap in to put his team in front ahead of next week’s second leg. However, Evergrande will be kicking themselves for not converting on any more of the many chances created.