Glory unfortunate to be edged out in ACL debut
Glory’s maiden appearance in the AFC Champions League ended in a narrow defeat as a spectacular, 83rd-minute goal from Leandro secured a 1-0 victory for FC Tokyo in Tuesday’s Group F clash at Tokyo Stadium.
(Click HERE for full match highlights).
Tony Popovic’s men acquitted themselves superbly against the expensively-assembled Japanese side, however and went close to finding the net themselves through Tomislav Mrcela in the first half and Ivan Franjic after the break.
Glory Goalkeeper Liam Reddy was rarely tested as the visitors went toe-to-toe with the hosts in wintry conditions and Popovic felt that his charges were very unfortunate not to come away with something to show for their efforts.
“Sometimes in football, as a coach, you can walk off the field and accept that the other team is better and you weren’t able to win the match, but I think tonight, that was not the case,” he said.
“We deserved more from the game. For a team that has never played in the Champions League, I thought we put on a very good performance away from home and deserved something from the match.
“We’re a little bit disappointed, which is also a good thing because we know that we competed very well with an excellent team and showed that we’re a good team tonight.”
During an evenly-contested first-half, clear-cut chances were very much at a premium as both sides pressed hard all over the field.
Indeed, FC Tokyo’s first meaningful effort on goal did not arrive until midway through the opening period when a goalbound strike from Brazilian import Diego Oliveira was brilliantly blocked by the sliding Tomislav Mrcela.
Moments later, the Glory defender featured prominently at the other end as his header from a Neil Kilkenny corner clipped the top of the net on its way over the bar.
The arm-wrestle continued after the break and it wasn’t until the hour-mark that either goal was seriously threatened again as Bruno Fornaroli dummied his way into the box and fired in a shot which found the side-netting.
Shuto Abe and Takahari Yujiro then went close for the home side before Glory responded by creating their best opportunity of the night on 77 minutes.
Diego Castro was the architect, picking out Ivan Franjic as he burst into the box from the right flank, but the defender was unable to get a proper connection on his shot.
Glory were left to rue that missed chance moments later as, seven minutes from time, Leandro produced a moment of quality to claim what proved to be the winner.
After a spell of sustained pressure from the men in blue, the Brazilian international unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box which, with the aid of a slight deflection, looped into the top corner of the net.
Despite their best efforts, the WA side were unable to find an equaliser in the dying minutes, but still received a warm ovation from the impressively large number of travelling fans who had made the long trip north.
Glory’s next AFC Champions League fixture is another away trip, this time to Ulsan Hyundai of Korea Republic on Wednesday 4 March.
AFC Champions League Group F
FC Tokyo 1 (Leandro 83′) Perth Glory 0
Referee: Yaqoob Said A Abdul Baqi (Oman)
FC Tokyo: 33.Akihiro HAYASHI, 2.Sei MUROYA, 3.Masato MORISHIGE, 4.Tsuyoshi WATANABE, 6.Ryoya OGAWA, 8.Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 9.Diego OLIVEIRA (32.Joan OUMARI 89′), 15.ADAILTON (38.Kazuya KONNO 59′), 18.Kento HASHIMOTO, 20.LEANDRO, 31.Shuto ABE (27.Kyosuke TAGAWA 90+2′)
Substitutes not used: 7.Hirotaka MITA, 13.Go HATANO (gk), 23.Kiichi YAJIMA, 37.Hotaka NAKAMURA
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Perth Glory: 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 2.Alex GRANT, 4.Gregory WUTHRICH, 5.Ivan FRANJIC (28.Gabriel POPOVIC 89′), 7.Joel CHIANESE (18.Nicholas D’AGOSTINO 73′), 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 12.Kim SOO-BEOM, 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 17.Diego CASTRO, 29.Kristian POPOVIC (20.Jake BRIMMER 75′), 88.Neil KILKENNY
Substitutes not used: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 3.Jacob TRATT, 8.James MEREDITH, 22.Vince LIA
Yellow Cards: Mrcela
Red Cards: None