Brisbane Roar will leave China with a well-deserved point as the Hyundai A-League champions played out a 1-1 draw with Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan in tonight’s AFC Champions League game.
The match day two fixture endured an interesting start as the teams tested their limits against their relatively unknown opponents and shared possession early on the Beijing Workers Stadium surface.
It was Beijing who drew first blood in the contest in the eighth minute when an overhead pass evaded the Roar defence and midfielder Piao Cheng’s rapid strike slipped past goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos at the near post.
The opening goal put Brisbane on the back foot momentarily yet the small but lively contingent of travelling Roar supporters were not made to wait too long before given something to cheer about.
In the 21st minute, Erik Paartalu picked out the run of Ivan Franjic and the right-back’s cross connected perfectly with the rising head of Mitch Nichols, who buried the ball into the back of the net to make history and score the club’s first ever goal in the AFC Champions League.
The dying stages of the first 45 minutes saw a golden chance for either side to take the lead with Mao Jianqing of Beijing and Brisbane’s leading scorer Besart Berisha both skyrocketing the ball when the goal was in clear sight meaning the two teams headed into the break on level terms.
Former Brisbane fan favourite Reinaldo was an early second half substitute for the home side as the Roar pressed high, going close through a header from Paartalu as international duo Thomas Broich and Henrique wreaked havoc down either wing.
But the quick pace of the game meant the momentum swung between the teams and suddenly, the Australian club were lucky not to concede as Beijing’s attacking options looked lively in front of goal.
Desperation set in and when Shane Stefanutto conceded a free kick in a dangerous position three minutes from the full time whistle, the Brisbane players were quick to shut down the set piece.
The Roar were given almost the exact same opportunity at the other end following a foul on Berisha and the Beijing defenders were equally up to the task meaning the score remained at 1-1 as the four minutes of stoppage time came to an end.
While his team didn’t take all three points on offer, Brisbane Roar Head Coach Ange Postecoglou was pleased with the improvement from the club’s opening AFC Champions League fixture two weeks ago.
“We knew we had to start positively,” he said.
“We tried to play attacking in the first half because we knew it would be difficult in the second half.
“In the first half we created opportunities that we didn’t take but we played better today than we did against Tokyo.
“Today was more like a Brisbane Roar performance.”
Beijing Guoan 1 (Piao CHENG 8’)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Mitch NICHOLS 21’)
Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Venue: Beijing Workers Stadium