Defending AFC Champions League champions Ulsan Hyundai marked their 15th consecutive win in the competition after seeing off BG Pathum United 2-0 at the Leo Stadium on Sunday night. The result ensured Ulsan – who were already through to the round of 16 alongside BGPU – top spot of Group F, with Thai champions BGPU finishing 2nd. Meanwhile, earlier on Sunday, Viettel FC wrapped up their maiden ACL campaign with a win as a Caique Lemes goal in the second half helped the Vietnamese champions to a narrow 1-0 win over 9-man Kaya FC-Iloilo.
Viettel FC (Vietnam) 1-0 Kaya FC-Iloilo (Philippines)
Determined to end their ACL outing on a bang, Viettel went the attack right from kick-off, with former Chiangmai FC striker Caique threatening Zach Banzon in the Kaya goal in the 6th minute, with the Visayans’ defenders coming to Zach’s rescue with a timely block.
Having lost 5-0 to the Red Tornado in their first meeting, Kaya were more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, all while waiting for an opening for them to perform a counter.
One such counterattack happened in the 16th minute, which culminated in Kenshiro Daniels crossing the ball towards Eric Giganto, who could only strike the side netting.
Both Caique and Nguyen Trong Hoang came close for Viettel, with the duo missing their target in the 28th and 29th minute respectively, before Trong Hoang forced a Zach save in the 47th minute.
Kaya’s disciplined and defensive approach was disrupted in the 51st minute after Simone Rota was shown a straight red card for his foul on Trong Hoang, before the Visayans were reduced even more to 9 men in the 53rd minute following Masanari Omura’s dismissal, with the veteran Japanese defender having fouled Trong Hoang as well.
The ensuing free-kick saw Caique blasting a superb one from outside the area into the top right corner of Zach’s goal, giving Viettel the lead that they’ve been seeking for.
Nguyen Trong Dai almost made it 2-0 in two separate occasions, however he was unable to find the target with both attempts. Regardless, Viettel managed to hang on for their 1-0 win, a result that ensured their campaign would end on a high note.
BG Pathum United (Thailand) 0-2 Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea)
Defending ACL champs Ulsan have confirmed their spot in the round of 16 thanks to their 3-0 win over Viettel last time out, while BGPU’s progression to the round of 16 was also confirmed thanks to results in the other groups within the East Asian section benefitting the Glass Rabbits. BGPU’s qualification meant that they have become the fourth Thai side to qualify out of the ACL group stages since the competition’s current format was introduced in 2002, following in the footsteps of BEC Tero Sasana (now Police Tero), Buriram United, and Muangthong United.
However, there’s the small matter of deciding who’s going to qualify as Group F winners and who’s going to qualify as Group F runners-up, and both Ulsan and BGPU clashed at the Leo Stadium on Sunday with the two positions being put at stake. A win for either of them would see them advance as group winners, while the losers will advance as runners-up.
Despite without the services of captain Victor Cardozo and striker Diogo, BGPU managed to hold their own against a full-strength Ulsan side that featured Yoon Bit-garam, Lukas Hinterseer, Valeri Qazaishvili, and Kim Min-jun.
It was an intense end-to-end action at the Leo Stadium, with BGPU getting their first sniff at Ulsan’s goal in the 29th minute, after an Ernesto Phumipha corner was headed off-target by veteran utility man Chatree Chimtalay, who was playing as a center-back for the occasion.
Two minutes later it was the Horang-i who took the lead, after Hinterseer managed to unleash Min-jun into the BGPU defense with his through ball, with the young forward beating the offside trap before sidestepping goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom and slotting the ball into the empty goal.
A Bit-garam corner in the 44th minute managed to cause all sorts of problems for the BGPU defense as Lim Jong-eun managed to rifle in a header, however Chatchai was in the right place and on the right time to deny him. The veteran goalkeeper then almost committed a fatal mistake after his mishandling of a back-pass enabled Min-jun to have a crack, but thankfully for BGPU, Chatchai managed to compose himself and the former Singha Chiangrai United goalie did well to block the attempt.
Another veteran in the BGPU team then threatened to draw things level in the 69th minute, with Surachat Sareepim’s thunderous effort from within the area being deflected away by Ulsan defender Dave Bulthuis.
Realizing that another goal would settle this tie once and for all, Ulsan delivered a sucker punch into BGPU’s aspirations for a comeback in the 87th minute. Barging his way into the Glass Rabbits’ defense, Valeri managed to collect a superb cross from substitute Lee Myung-jae before slotting home past Chatchai to confirm victory for the Horang-i.
As a result of their three points, Ulsan finished their group stage campaign as Group F winners, while BGPU finished as runners-up. Both teams will be looking forward for their round of 16 ties which will be played in September.