It was a night of frustration for dominating Johor Darul Takzim who had to settle for a come-from-behind 1-1 draw against Korean club Gyeongnam FC in their second AFC Champions League Group E match at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru on Tuesday.
In their first match -which was against defending champions Kashima Antlers away – ended in a 2-1 defeat for the five-time Malaysian Super League champions.
On Tuesday the Southern Tigers were the better side on the night in front of their home fans who came out in full force to support their team in their first AFC Champions League match at home.
The draw a night of frustration for Malaysia’s lone flag bearer in the competition after Perak were knocked out in the playoffs.
The maiden AFC Champions League point left the Southern Tigers at the bottom of the group with Kashima Antlers on top with four points after a 2-2 draw against China’s Shandong Luneng.
Against the run of play in the 52nd minute, Gyeongnam snatched a 1-0 lead with Kwak Tae-hwi heading home an angled header from a corner by Lee Yeong-jae much to the disappointment of JDT who looked more threatening each time they were in possession of the ball.
Until then the visitors were lucky not to have conceded a goal or two as Mauricio, Diogo Santo, and Safawi Rasid muffed scoring chances with their attempts either saved by goalkeeper Lee Bum-soo or the woodwork.
However, the Southern Tigers duly got their equalizer and this came on 68 minutes via a penalty. Safawi’s corner hit the hands of Lee Kwang-jin and new signing from Thai club Buriram United, Brazilian Santo made no mistake from the spot kick.
It was Santo’s second AFC Champions goal for JDT, having scored in the defeat to Kashima Antlers.
JDT also found Bum-soo a stumbling block with his good reading of the match when he saved with his legs almost a sure goal from Safawi.
Argentine Gonzalo Cabrera was also a culprit in missing chances when he sent a rebound crashing against the crossbar from an earlier Safawi attempt that came off the post.
“Of course it is disappointing not to have won but my players gave their best and fought for the draw after falling behind. We had our chances but could not score…but this is football.
“We could have scored from four or five attempts but simply could not get the ball into the net,” said JDT’s Mexican coach Benjamin Mora. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH