Becamex Binh Duong’s hopes of qualifying for the AFC Champions League knockout round were ended on Wednesday despite a 1-1 draw against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Group E.
Having lost all three of their opening matches, the V.League 1 outfit entered the tie knowing only a victory would be enough to keep alive their hopes of advancing from the group stage.
However, they found themselves with an even bigger mountain to climb after falling behind a minute after the half-hour mark; Eninho curling a corner straight towards goal that was misjudged by Nguyen Quoc Thien Esele, who could only help push it into the back of the net.
But despite having the odds stacked firmly against them, the hosts showed plenty of endeavour and matched their more-illustrious opponents for much of the game.
They were unlucky not to equalise seven minutes into the second half when Nguyen Anh Duc smashed a shot off the bar, following a neat turn on the edge of the box.
The woodwork also denied Edu from adding to Jeonbuk’s tally in the 82nd minute after he was somehow left unattended inside the opposition area, only to rattle the crossbar with a ferocious attempt that had Thien Esele beaten all ends up.
Nonetheless, Binh Duong refused to give in and ultimately got their reward in the third minute of injury-time, when Abass Cheikh Dieng pounced on a loose ball outside the box and sent an unstoppable piledriver flying past Hong Jeong-nam to force the draw.
Despite their inevitable elimination, the jubilation from the Binh Duong camp was clear for all to see at the final whistle as they celebrated a positive result against their South Korean opponents, who won the tournament back in 2006 and reached the final as recently as 2011.
Becamex Binh Duong: Nguyen Quoc Thien Esele, Au Van Hoan, Michal Nguyen, David Vrankovic, Nguyen Xuan Thanh (Dang Van Robert 67’), Hoang Van Binh, Moses Oloya, Ganiyu Oseni, Trinh Quang Ninh (Le Cong Vinh 60’), Abass Cheikh Dieng, Nguyen Anh Duc (Nguyen Tang Tuan 71’).
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors: Hong Jeong-nam, Lee Jae-myung, Alex Wilkinson, Cho Sung-hwan, Choi Bo-kyung, Jung Hoon, Moon Sang-yun (Ryu Chang-hyun 81’), Lee Kyu-ro, Eninho (Kim Dong-chan 68’), Lee Sung-hyun (Leonardo 55’), Edu.