AFC Champions League - Group H: Tue, 19th May 2009
|0 - 2|
|NOH BYUNG-JOON 12'
SHIN HYUNG-MIN (sent off 89')
Venue: Todoroki Stadium
A tired performance from Frontale saw them relinquish top spot in Group H to a well-organised Pohang Steelers on Tuesday night.
With the next round of the ACL decided by a one-leg knockout match, Frontale will be unhappy they couldn't pick up the point that would have given them a home tie against the runners-up of Group E. Instead they now have the more difficult, albeit more familiar, prospect of a trip to Banpaku to face current ACL champions Gamba Osaka.
Vitor Junior and Yokoyama returned to the side after their enforced rest at the weekend. And Yamagishi kept his place - this time filling in for the suspended Mori at right-back.
The first half proved Frontale's undoing. Pohang dominated possession and a three-man attack, spearheaded by their big Macedonian, Stevica Ristic, gave the backline a torrid time.
The Koreans were helped on their way by a referee who, overall, was actually not too shabby by ACL standards. Twice in the opening 10 minutes he awarded the visitors free kicks right inside "the D" following wafer-thin contact from Frontale defenders.
From the first, they hit the post. From the second, they scored - Kawashima unsighted by a wall that had to be set up so deep it was practically on top of him.
It took until the 40th minute before Frontale managed to string together their first cohesive attack. And a decent passing move it was, culminating in Juninho feeding Chong Tese whose shot forced a good save from the Pohang keeper.
Frontale were much better after the break and took the game to the Koreans. With the twinkle-toed Renatinho on for the flounder-footed Yamagishi (Yokoyama moving to centre-back and Igawa out on the right) the visitors were penned back in ther own half for a good 15-minute spell. But Pohang defended stoutly and the home team were unable to make their pressure tell.
Then, the ghost of amateur defending once again reared its ugly head. A quick Pohang counter had Frontale stretched and, as an extra man joined the attack, three defenders were all drawn to the ball. This left the burly Brazilian Denilson free on the right to slot through Kawashima's legs and kill the game.
There was a little drama late on as Pohang had a man sent off for a second bookable offence. And at the very death, Renatinho saw a looping header tipped over. But on the whole it was simply a bad day at the office for the boys in blue.