JOHOR BAHRU, Apr 19 – Johor Darul Takzim roared to a 2-1 win over South Korean giants Ulsan Hyundai to remain unbeaten in Group I in the AFC Champions League match at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskandar Puetri, Johor Bahru on Monday.
The eight-time Malaysian Super League champions fell short in many disciplines but fought tooth and nail against the 2020 ACL champions to register a morale boosting win in the first round. In the first match the Malaysian flag bearers whipped Guangzhou FC 5-0.
“It was not an easy win but we did what we needed to do against Ulsan. Self-confidence nd self-belief played a part in our win. I am proud of my players for their guts and determination to plug the gaps and win the match,” said JDT’s long-serving Mexican coach Benjamin Mora on the victory.
His counterpart Hong Myungbo blamed ”defensive lapses” on is team’s defeat.
Once again Bergson Da Silva was too hot to handle and he struck the winner 10 minutes before regulation time – firing home a left footed drive into the keeper’s right corner.
JDT got off to a perfect start – taking the lead as early as the third minute while the Korean were still settling into the game.
New signing Fernando Forestieri left Ulsan in the forest when he fired home an unstoppable right footer past goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo rooted with the out of the blue strike. On the bench Ulsan coach was left dazed. The blank look on his face summed it up all.
Hyeongwoo was beaten again in the 79th minute. This time Bergson, with his adrenalin flowing after a hattrick against Guangzhou, struck and the rest is history as JDT is making its presence felt at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium.
Earlier, Um Wonsang netted the equalizer for Ulsan in the 52nd minute off an assist from substitute Seol Youngwoo. It, however, failed to rattle the Southern Tigers who grew in confidence as Ulsan threw everything at them with the hope of at least salvaging a draw.
The match also saw JDT lose goalkeeper Haziq Nadzli midway in the second-half through a shoulder injury and was replaced by Izham Tarmizi. JDT has already lost first choice and national No 1 Farizal Marlias through head injury sustained in a Malaysian Super League match.
Putting that aside, JDT, with two wins in the bag, next play Japanese club Kawasaki Frontale who romped to a 8-0 whitewash of Guangzhou in earlier match played at the Larkin Stadium.
JDT leads the group with six points with Kawasaki second on four points. Ulsan is third with one point. Guangzhou is at the bottom without a point after two defeats.