Group I: United City FC fight back to beat Beijing FC in AFC Champions League thriller

Originally published by THE AFC


Tashkent: A fiery match that saw the lead change hands towards the end between Beijing FC and United City FC ended with the latter winning 3-2 in Group I of the 2021 AFC Champions League at the Lokomotiv Stadium on Thursday.


The two sides had met on Matchday One, with each picking up a point after they drew 1-1. This win represented the Filipino side’s first ever in the competition, and the first ever for any team from the Philippines.


The Chinese Super League side wasted no time in opening the scoring, with less than a minute after the referee's first blow of the whistle, Jiang Wenhao dispossessed United City in midfield and broke forward, taking a shot from just inside the area that bounced off Anthony Pinthus’ post and into the net.


Less than three minutes later, Beijing FC doubled the score through Leng Jixuan who received a pass from Ma Yajun, then rounded the goalkeeper and a defender before feigning a shot and then firing into the top corner from inside the six yard box.


United City got a sight of goal midway through the first half when the side pushed up through talismanic captain Stephen Schrock, who played Omid Nazari into space just outside the area with the latter firing in a shot that was just wide of the target.


Throughout the remaining minutes of the first half the Filipino side looked for openings to try to claw back into the match, with Amin Nazari and Bienvenido Maranon being denied by Beijing FC’s alert defence, on hand on both occasions to block the duo’s attempts.


Ten minutes into the second half, United City got an excellent chance to half the deficit when Mark Hartmann fired in a shot from outside the area that required a quick reaction save from Beijing FC’s Guo Quanbo.


Just on the hour mark, the Filipino side managed to score their first goal of the night through Hartmann, who expertly sent a free-kick past Quanbo after Hu Jiaqi had initially fouled Amin Nazari just outside the area to make the score 2-1.


United City managed to get the equaliser through the AFC Cup all-time top scorer Maranon, who capitalised on a scramble in front of Quanbo who had failed to catch Amin Nazari’s free-kick, with the defence also failing to clear, Maranon tapped in to draw level at 2-2.


Jixuan hit the post with 10 minutes left on the clock, but the resulting counter attack saw United City take the lead for the first time in the match, with Hartmann getting his second of the match after the side broke forward.


Schrock provided the critical through ball that Hartmann latched onto, with his shot landing in Quanbo’s bottom corner to make it 3-2.


Next up for Beijing FC will be a tie against Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale in the conclusion of group stage action, with United City FC taking on Daegu FC at the same time.

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