2017 AFC Champions League, Group Stage
  • Xisco (37')
  • Chanathip Songkrasin (83')
  • Teerasil Dangda (89')

Chanathip slays Brisbane, takes Muang Thong to ACL KO stages

Xisco celebrate Muang Thong ACL goal v Brisbane Xisco celebrate Muang Thong ACL goal v Brisbane

A moment of magic from Muang Thong United playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin helped settle a nervy contest against battling Brisbane Roar as the Thai champions won 3-0 to move into the AFC Champions League (ACL) knockout stages for the first time in their history.

In the process, Brisbane were knocked out of the competition, four days ahead of their A-League semifinal away to Melbourne Victory.

Chanathip's goal came eight minutes from time, after Xisco Jimenez had given the Thai champions a first-half lead. The hosts had to endure a number of scares before the second goal allowed the fans to relax, and Teerasil Dangda added a late third to give the scoreline a harsh look for Brisbane's youthful side.

The visitors started with just one of the side that beat Kashima Antlers in Brisbane on Matchday Four. Skipper Luke Devere and veteran midfielder Thomas Broich were tasked with helping the inexperienced 11 through the game, while many of the regulars stayed behind in Australia in preparation for Sunday's domestic action.

Muang Thong, meanwhile, had just learned of Group E rivals' Kashima Antlers' 4-0 victory at Ulsan Hyundai, meaning a point from this game would be enough to take the through to the knockout stages.

Muang Thong had the first chance of the game after just three minutes when Peerapat Notchaiya was brought down on the edge of the box. But, for once, Theerathon Bunmathan was wasteful with the set piece.

There was a half-chance minutes later when Xisco laid the ball back to Chanathip on the edge of the box. The playmaker flighted the ball into the path of Teerasil, but the striker could not direct his effort on target.

Muang Thong looked set to take the lead in the 15th minute when Jamie Young mishit a clearance straight to Chanathip, who found Teerasil again. But the striker's shot was brilliantly blocked by Devere.

And Brisbane then gave the dominant hosts a scare when Shannon Brady played a smart one-two with Joseph Katebian. As he received the return, Brady was through on goal, but he sliced his shot wide. A minute later, Nicholas D'Agostino missed another excellent chance for Roar when he headed wide from Broich's deep free kick.

It was an encouraging spell for the visitors after a nervy start, and the home side woke up to the fact that they would have to work hard for the victory.

While they were looking threatening in attack, Brisbane were also growing in confidence at the back, with Xisco looking increasingly isolated up front. Chanathip was busy trying to find the key to unlock the Roar defence but they were holding firm.

But their resistance was finally broken in the 37th minute and, not surprisingly, Chanathip was involved. He sent the ball out to Tristan Do on the right flank and the full-back flighted a perfect ball to the back post where Xisco met it with a powerful header that went just inside the post.

There was a huge sigh of relief from he home fans, with the visitors now needing to score at least twice to prevent Muang Thong from advancing.

There was also misfortune for the away side as Young suffered a nasty cut on the arm as he collided with the post trying to keep out Xisco's effort. The keeper was replaced by Tomislav Bilic.

In the 43rd minute, Brisbane threatened again when Broich sent in a tantalising cross from the right. Katebian got his header on target, but there wasn't enough power to trouble Kawin Thamsatchanan.

The visitors came even closer, after a nice move involving Broich ended with D'Agostino rifling in a powerful shot from the edge of the box that Kawin tipped over.

The first key action of the second half came in the 52nd minute when Celio Santos turned defence into a dangerous attack. Katebian had released Brady through the middle, but the forward was crowded out and Santos strode forward for Muang Thong.

The defender fed the ball out to Xisco on the left and the Spaniard found Chanathip, whose shot fro the edge of the was blocked and spun out for a corner.

In the 55th minute Devere was replaced by Connor O'Toole, with Brisbane looking to Sunday's match in Australia again.

Not surprisingly, 36-year-old Broich was then withdrawn just after the hour mark as they gave him some time to rest ahead of Sunday's big game. Manuel Arana came on in his place.

The hosts were starting to dominate possession again without managing to create any clear-cut chances.

Chanathip came close to settling matters in the 70th minute when he seized on a loose pass and skipped past a couple of challenges before steering the ball just wide of the keeper's left-hand post.

Xisco seemed to have picked up a knock and was replaced by defender Adisorn Promrak -- a move that signalled Muang Thong's intentions to tighten up at the back in the final 10 minutes.

But, out of nowhere, Wattana Playnum, who had just come on for Ratchapol Nawanno, played the ball into Chanathip in the middle of the Brisbane half. The playmaker spun past his man, beat another challenge and then rounded Bilic before rolling the ball into an empty net.

Teerasil prodded in Peerapat's low cross at the far post in the dying moments to give the scoreline a slightly flattering look for the jubilant hosts.

But Muang Thong United, who started the campaign as clear underdogs, thoroughly deserve their place in the knockout stages. Brisbane, meanwhile, can now fully focus their efforts on domestic matters.