Jeju: Yu Dabao’s second half-strike was enough to give Tianjin Teda a hard-fought 1-0 win over Jeju United in the opening match of Group E of the 2011 AFC Champions League at Jeju World Cup Stadium on Tuesday.
The Korea Republic outfit were making their debut in the tournament and while they were on top for most of the game, they were caught out by a classic counter-attack 10 minutes after the break from the Chinese Super League runners-up which ultimately proved enough to hand Arie Haan's men three crucial points.
After a quiet opening period, Jeju should have taken the lead after 16 minutes when a chipped ball over the defence from Park Hyun-beom found Kim Eun-jung unmarked around the penalty spot.
The 2010 K-League MVP chested the ball down but volleyed the ball over with just the goalkeeper to beat.
The hosts, playing their first-ever game in the competition, continued to push forward on a blustery afternoon but Yu was looking dangerous for the visitors and went close seven minutes before the break.
The powerful forward raced past Ma Cheol-jun and burst into the right side of the penalty area only to see his low diagonal shot skid just wide of Kim Ho-jun’s right-hand post.
A minute later, Jeju came even closer to breaking the deadlock. Kim Eun-jung had his back to goal inside the Tianjin area and fed Santos but the Brazilian striker’s shot was parried by Yang Qipeng and the loose ball was eventually put behind for a corner.
Jeju continued where they had left off at the start of the second period and once again, Kim Eun-jung let a golden chance go begging. Bae Ki-jong crossed from the right touchline and although Kim had a free header at the far post, he failed to connect cleanly.
Yu had been Tianjin’s liveliest player and opened the scoring in the 55th minute. Zhang Xhaobin broke free down the right and from near the touchline, curled an inviting cross towards the near post. The home defence and goalkeeper failed to intercept leaving Yu to hook the ball in from close range.Jeju tried to find a way back into the match but struggled to create any clear chances in the face of a well-organised Tianjin defence.
Substitute Lee Sang-hyub forced a fine save out of Yang with six minutes remaining, his low shot from outside the area heading for the bottom corner before the Tianjin goalkeeper tipped the ball around the post.
Yang was beaten two minutes into stoppage time but Lee's free-kick from 25 yards bounced back off the crossbar to end a disappointing continental debut for Jeju.