Brisbane Roar has stood strong against the challenge of Ulsan Hyundai on AFC Champions League match day three, pushing the K-League side the whole way for a 1-1 draw despite playing the second half with ten men at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium.
In the first half, Brisbane could have taken a deserved lead through a number of sources as their South Korean opponents afforded their visitors large amounts of space in the pointy end of their attack.
Midfielder Massimo Murdocca had two early half-chances inside ten minutes before Thomas Broich’s free-kick was only denied its top corner destination by a late save from the fingertips of stand-in Ulsan goalkeeper Kim Seung-Gyu.
Ulsan Hyundai’s chances were much fewer and far between with only two notable opportunities to break the deadlock inside the first 45 minutes.
Captain Kwak Tae-Hwi smacked an 18th minute header onto the crossbar before Shane Stefanutto was perfectly placed ten minutes later to clear the ball off the line with firm header.
Besart Berisha went looking for his first AFC Champions League goal, finding himself offside on four different occasions in the process, but it was his young strike partner Nick Fitzgerald who made his way onto the scoresheet.
In the starting eleven for the injured Henrique, Fitzgerald latched onto a smart flick back from Berisha on the edge of the area, his right-footed delivery with enough venom to beat stand-in Ulsan goalkeeper Kim Seung-Gyu.
Half-time almost seemed a detriment to Brisbane who were oozing confidence across the park and inside the first minute of the second stanza, it certainly became the case as early drama ensued on the pitch.
A tug on the arm of Kim Seung-Yong from Brisbane central defender Matt Jurman’s was seen as a foul in the eyes of Lebanese referee Andre El Haddad and Ulsan were given a lifeline as a penalty was awarded.
Striker Lee Keun-Ho chose to place the ball to Michael Theoklitos’ right and the Roar custodian was up to the task, picking the right way and diving to save the spot-kick.
Jack Hingert was thrown into the fray at the expense of Nick Fitzgerald soon after with usual right-back Ivan Franjic slotting next to captain Matt Smith in the heart of the back four as Brisbane looked to keep their shape with ten men.
However, the changes were not enough to keep out Ulsan defender Lee Jae-Sung as he connected with a cross thrown in from the left wing to equalise in the 54th minute.
The Roar defence were sitting further behind the ball than they were used to but they refused to buckle from their usual game plan.
As the 80 minute mark approached, Brisbane were lucky to stay level as Lee Keun-Ho attempted to atone for his penalty miss with a long-range shot that bounced fortuitously the wrong side of the Roar upright.
Momentum soon swung the other way and inside stoppage time, Ulsan were able to thank their lucky stars as Berisha sliced a chance inside the six-yard box over the crossbar.
That chance proved to be the last significant event of the match day three encounter and it ended all square at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium.
Ulsan Hyundai 1 (LEE Jae-Sung 54’)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Nick FITZGERALD 36’)
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Venue: Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan, South Korea
Referee: Andre El Haddad
Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH (c), 3. Shane STEFANUTTO, 4. Matthew JURMAN, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Besart BERISHA, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA 918. Luke BRATTAN 66’), 17. Mitch NICHOLS (14. Rocky VISCONTE 87’), 22. Thomas BROICH, 24. Nick FITZGERALD (19. Jack HINGERT 51’)
Substitutes not used: 9. Kofi DANNING, 12. Matthew MUNDY, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 25. George LAMBADARIDIS
Yellow cards: Massimo MURDOCCA 31’
Red cards: Matthew JURMAN 46’
Ulsan Hyundai: 2. LEE Yong, 3. LEE Jae-Sung, 5. KWAK Tae-Hwi, 6. CHOI Jae-Soo, 10. MARANHAO, 11. LEE Keun-Ho, 13. KIM Seung-Yong (21. KIM Hyo-Gi 88’), 17. KO Seul-Ki, 18. KIM Seung-Gyu, 20. Julian Estiven VELEZ, 28. Akihiro IENAGA (9. KIM Shin-Wook 58’)
Substitutes not used: 1. KIM Young-Kwang, 15. KIM Dong-Suk, 16. PARK Seung-Il, 24. RIM Chang-Woo, 27. KANG Jin-Ouk
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil