PHILIPPINES Football League champion United City FC settled for a 1-1 draw against Beijing FC in their opening AFC Champions League match in Group I on Saturday. — AFC

Kaya bows to Thailand’s BG Pathum United, 4-1

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

IT was a mixed bag of results on Saturday for Philippine football clubs seeing action at the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL).

United City Football Club, the reigning Philippines Football League champion, was held to a 1-1 draw by China’s Beijing FC in their opener in Uzbekistan while Kaya FC-Iloilo lost to Thailand’s BG Pathum United, 4-1, in Bangkok.

Veteran Stephan Schröck put United City ahead, 1-0, scoring in the 28th minute, weaving through their opponent’s defense to score into the far corner.

The PFL champ continued to dominate for the remainder of the opening half and well into the early goings of the second fold.

Beijing FC though remained undeterred, with its efforts rewarded in the 73rd minute when Liang Showen found the bottom of the net to level the count at 1-1.

The 19-year-old defender Liang fired a 25-yard free kick to get his team back in contention.

Rocked by the equalizer, United City tried to regroup and create chances for the go-ahead goal, but Beijing FC’s defense held steady en route to the match ending in a stalemate and the teams getting a point each in Group I of the ACL.

United City returns to action on Tuesday, June 29, against Daegu FC of Korea, which is coming off a loss in its opener against Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale.

Meanwhile, Kaya FC found the going tough in its ACL group stage debut in Group F.

The Iloilo-based squad, which was the last team to qualify in its grouping, was dominated by the hometown champion BG Pathum United.

A brace from Teerasil Dangda (23’, 59’) and Diogo (35’, 51’) assured the game was out of reach for Kaya.

Thai international Dangda scored his first goal on a rebound while connecting off a cross from teammate Diogo for the second.

Diogo, for his part, also scored off a cross and eluded Kaya goalkeeper Louise Casas to hand his team a 2-0 cushion. He completed his brace in the 51st minute with a free kick.

While the match was pretty much over for the remaining third of the contest, Kaya still tried to make a dent.

Midfielder Marwin Angeles eventually broke through for his team, connecting in the 81st minute.

Next stop for Kaya is Vietnam’s Viettel FC on Tuesday. Viettel lost its opener against reigning ACL champion Ulsan Hyundai FC.

In the AFC Champions League, the top teams in each of the groupings advance to the Round of 16 with the second-place clubs qualifying if they end up as among the best runner-up teams.