Melbourne held in late Champs League drama

Melbourne City’s hopes of automatically qualifying for the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League have dealt a late blow in a 1-1 draw with Thailand’s Jeonnam Dragons.

The men’s A-League champions were set to celebrate an 89th minute winner from their Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren at Pathum Thani Stadium on Sunday night at Pathum Thani Stadium, which seemed to take them to the joint top of their group. to return.

Instead, a careless blunder on the other side of goalkeeper Tom Glover resulted in the Korean side’s Georgia international Nika Kacharava netting a damaging equalizer two minutes into stoppage time.

Due to the late blow, City’s hopes of automatic qualification as group winners are still in the air as they are currently two points behind Thai BG Pathum United, who defeated Philippine team United City 3-1.

City will face Pathum again on Wednesday in Wednesday’s penultimate group stage matches at the Thais’ home stadium, a match they will almost certainly need to win to have a realistic chance of leading the group.

Finishing second would not necessarily guarantee elimination, however, as City could still advance to the knockout stage as one of the top three group runners-up.

However, City boss Patrick Kisnorbo will be looking for his side to improve dramatically on Sunday’s flat performance in which Korean Cup winners Jeonnam looked superior, as they did in their 2-1 loss to Melbourne on Thursday.

City brought Connor Metcalfe back to their starting line-up for the first time in the tournament, but missed their suspended livewire, Marco Tilio.

They again found it difficult to create chances, as in their first draw with Jeonnam, and it was the Korean side that almost drew first blood just before half time with Park Hee-seong’s heel going just wide.

Park got even closer when he hit the post in the 54th minute and Kosovar striker Leonard Pllana ignored a glorious opportunity 12 minutes later when he flashed wide.

After Maclaren City’s late strike threatened to yield a barely deserved win, Glover made a mess of it trying to clear a free kick and decided to punch rather than catch.

He paid the price when the weak shot fell on Kacharava alone, with the keeper stranded when the Georgian’s shot went over the head into an empty net.

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