Brisbane Roar has two games remaining to salvage their maiden AFC Champions League campaign after a 2-1 loss to South Korean club Ulsan Hyundai at Brisbane Stadium tonight.
Roar coach Ange Postecoglou named his strongest starting eleven to face the K-League club, despite being just five days out from this year’s Hyundai A-League Grand Final, with the encounter producing end-to-end football and plenty of drama-filled moments for the fans to enjoy.
With no clear cut chances opening up for either side in the game’s early stages, Ulsan Hyundai forged their way onto the scoresheet in the 10th minute through some quick thinking in the middle of the park.
Colombian livewire Juan Velez dispossessed Mitch Nichols 25 yards out from goal before spinning the ball past the diving efforts of Brisbane ‘keeper Michael Theoklitos with his left foot.
But Brisbane hit back quickly, great vision from midfielder Massimo Murdocca picked out the run of Shane Stefanutto - the 32-year-old defender’s deft touch enough to beat Ulsan custodian Kim Seung-Gyu for just his third goal in his 14-year professional career.
After the break, Ulsan looked the more dangerous of the two teams, first scaring the Roar defence with a header at the far post that brushed the side netting before Lee Keun-Ho rattled a shot off the woodwork after a meandering run through the midfield.
Substitute Luke Brattan then did the same to the opposite crossbar before a quick counter-attack resulted in Iranian referee Torki Mohsen pointed to the spot after Mohamed Adnan’s stray leg brought down Kang Min-Soo in the penalty area.
Ulsan skipper Kwak Tae-Hwi took responsibility, deploying a coolly-taken kick to give his side the lead with 15 minutes still left to play.
Brisbane had a host of chances to level the score as the game wore on, Nichols’ replacement James Meyer firing two shots marginally off target before Henrique flashed one wide and Paartalu’s strike could only find the arms of Kim Seung-Gyu.
The match ended 2-1 in favour of the visitors with the Roar still winless in their first four AFC Champions League fixtures.
“I don’t know if I’m disappointed,” coach Postecoglou said post-match.
“We know where we’re at and we wanted to play this tournament in a certain kind of way and I think we have in the last three games.
“We’re not quite there yet, in terms of real quality, we’re not quite there and there’s no shame in saying that and that’s how we want to be and how we want to improve.”
Brisbane Roar 1 (Shane STEFANUTTO 25’)
Ulsan Hyundai 2 (Juan VELEZ 11’, KWAK Tae-Hwi 73(p)’)
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Venue: Brisbane Stadium, Milton, Brisbane
Referee: Torki Mohsen (Iran)
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA (24. Nick FITZGERALD 58’), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA (18. Luke BRATTAN 63’), 10. HENRIQUE, 17. Mitch NICHOLS (21. James MEYER 76’), 16. Mohamed ADNAN, 22. Thomas BROICH
Substitutes not used: 12. Matt MUNDY, 19. Jack HINGERT, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk)
Yellow cards: Besart BERISHA 46’
Red cards: Nil
Ulsan Hyundai: 3. LEE Jae-Sung, 4. KANG Min-Soo, 5. KWAK Tae-Hwi, 8. LEE Ho, 10. 20. MARANHAO (28. Akihiro IENAGA 50’), 11. LEE Keun-Ho, 13. KIM Seung-Yong (6. CHOI Jae-Soo 83’), 14. KIM Young-Sam, 17. KO Seul-Ki (21. KIM Hyogi 90+2’), 18. KIM Seung-Gyu, 20. Juan Estiven VELEZ Upegui
Substitutes not used: 1. KIM Young-Kwang, 15. KIM Dong-Suk, 24. RIM Chang-Woo, 27. KANG Jin-Ouk,
Yellow cards: Akihiro IENAGA 90’
Red cards: Nil