Southeast Asia East Asia

Kawasaki, Daegu Assured of Top Two Finish in Group I

East Asian sides Kawasaki Frontale and Daegu FC were assured to finish within the top two of Group I following their wins on Monday. Taking on United City FC at Tashkent’s Lokomotiv Stadium, defending J.League 1 champions Kawasaki managed to notch a confident 2-0 win despite playing without many of their key players, while Daegu saw off Beijing Guoan 3-0 to keep their own round of 16 hopes alive.

United City FC (Philippines) 0-2 Kawasaki Frontale (Japan)

Having thrashed Filipino champions United City 8-0 in their first encounter, Kawasaki decided to deploy a second-string squad for their return meeting, with head coach Toru Oniki resting the likes of Kaoru Mitoma, Leandro Damiao, Akihiro Ienaga, Shogo Taniguchi and Miki Yamane on the bench. However, Kawasaki’s starting lineup on Monday remain strong with the likes of Kento Tachibanada, Kei Chinen, Daiya Tono, and Ryota Oshima present.

The first 15 minutes of the game was a cagey affair, with both sides encroaching themselves into their opposition’s final third. United City had upped their game considerably from that 8-0 defeat, managing to keep up with their more illustrious opponents, and Anthony Pinthus in the United City goal was alert enough to deny Chinen the opening goal.

However, lightning doesn’t strike twice and Chinen managed to plunder Kawasaki’s opener in the 18th minute, beating Pinthus with a shot from an acute angle that crept its way underneath the diving keeper’s body and into the goal.

With the opening goal now theirs, Kawasaki intensified their attacks on the United City backline. Chinen almost bagged his brace shortly after scoring his goal, however his header from Daiya’s cross was denied by the goalpost.

The second half saw more of the same, with Pinthus denying Kazuya Yamamura in the 60th minute, before the 23-year old goalkeeper found himself being beaten once again eighteen minutes later.

Taking advantage of a skirmish in front of the United City goal, Tatsuya Hasegawa claimed possession of the ball before tapping in from close range to double Kawasaki’s lead.

Substitute Kieran Hayes then almost pulled one back for United City in the dying minutes of the game, however his shot from distance was easily saved by Kawasaki goalie Jung Sung-ryong – ensuring that the J1 side would end the match with both the win and the clean sheet. Defeat also means that United City’s ACL journey would end in the group stages as they could now only finish in 3rd place at best.

Beijing Guoan (China) 0-3 Daegu FC (South Korea)

Daegu kept their pressure on Kawasaki as they utterly dominated a young Beijing side at the Bunyodkor Stadium, with their 3-0 triumph over the Chinese effectively eliminating Beijing from the competition

Kim Jun-hyuk and Park Han-bin tested a stubborn Beijing defense in the opening 30 minutes of the game, while goalkeeper Guo Quanbo was the busier out of the two goalkeepers as he managed to keep the youngsters in green well in the game. However eventually Daegu’s persistence pays off and Guo was finally beaten in the stroke of half-time, with the South Koreans’ 22nd attempt on goal no less!

Jo Jing-woo managed to flick a cross from Hwang Soon-min towards the direction of Jun-hyuk, who controlled the ball for a bit before smashing home a volley past Guo, ensuring that Daegu would have the advantage coming into half-time.

The South Koreans doubled their advantage in the 57th minute, with substitute Jung Chi-in providing the men in sky blue some breathing space after he had swept An Yong-woo’s cross into Guo’s goal.

Chi-in then confirmed the win and all three points for Daegu in the 76th minute, after he had forced Beijing captain Liang Shaowen to deflect his shot into Guo’s net for a Beijing own-goal.

Daegu’s win sets up an important crunch tie between themselves and Kawasaki for Group I supremacy on July 8th at the Bunyodkor Stadium, with only the winners of the group being guaranteed a spot in the round of 16. Beijing and United City, on the other hand, will play out a match to determine who will finish third in their group on the same day at the Lokomotiv Stadium.