0 Min: FC Tokyo’s final Group F game versus Ulsan Hyundai will decide who of the Gas and Horangi emerge as group winners and benefit from a home fixture in the next round of the AFC Champions League. The Big Crown is the venue for a match in which the visitors only need take a point to top the table on Matchday Six, and should they do so they will face fellow J.League side Kashiwa Reysol in the Round of 16.
Ulsan, doubtless wary of a difficult trip to China against Super League giants Guangzhou Evergrande, will be sure to push for the victory which will give them the home fixture against a struggling Sun Kings side. Both sides have enjoyed a good start to their respective domestic campaigns, Ulsan being the K-League’s fourth-placed team and only two points behind leaders Suwon Samsung Bluewings, while back-to-back top-flight victories for the Gas has seen them rise to sixth in the table with a game in hand.
I’ll be bringing you team news very shortly for what should prove to be a fascinating fixture.
0 Min: Ulsan Hyundai – Kim Young-Kwang; Lee Jae-Seong, Kang Min-Soo, Kwak Tae-Hwi, Kim Young-Sam; Kim Dong-Suk, Go Seul-Ki, Julian Estiven Velez; Maranhao, Lee Keun-Ho, Kim Seung-Yong
Substitutes – Kim Seung-Gyu; Choi Jae-Soo, Kang Jin-Wook; Lee Ho, Park Seung-Il, Choi Jin-Soo, Kim Shin-Wook
0 Min: FC Tokyo – Shiota; Jang, Tokunaga, Morishige, Mukuhara; Takahashi, Yonemoto, Hasegawa, Kawano, Yazawa; Watanabe
Substitutes – Gonda; Nakamura, Maruyama; Kajiyama; Hayashi, Shigematsu, Lucas
0 Min: It is a very, very small crowd at the Big Crown Stadium. The football on offer should hopefully prove diverting for the few thousand who have shown up this evening for a match which will be overseen by Saudi Arabia’s Khalil Al Ghamdi.
0 Min: We’re about a minute away from kick-off, and it’s Ulsan Hundai who will get the final match in Group F underway.
1 Min: And at exactly 11:30 BST/19:30 JST, Khalil Al Ghamdi blows his whistle to start this contest.
2 Mins: An early corner for Ulsan to be taken by Kim Seung-Yong, which is straight into Shiota’s hands.
4 Mins: Some early pressure from the Gas, but a ball from Takuji Yonemoto intended for Aria Hasegawa in the penalty area is overhit and is behind for a goal kick, which Kim Young-Kwang takes.
6 Mins: Kim Seung-Yong has a free-kick on the left hand-side near halfway, and his long ball is headed away by Masato Morishige with Yuhei Tokunaga completing the clearance.
7 Mins: A very early booking for Kim Young-Sam.
9 Mins: The first shot on target from Kazuma Watanabe after a neat pass from Aria Hasegawa, but his low effort is only directed at Kim Young-Kwang.
11 Mins: A painful boot in the back of Lee Keun-Ho from Yuhei Tokunaga allows Kim Seung-Yong another set piece. His cross from 40 yards is met by Lee Jae-Seong, but it’s wide of Hitoshi Shiota’s left upright.
12 Mins: POST! Hideto Takahashi rifles a shot from 22 yards which beats Kim Young-Kwang’s dive but smacks against the inside of the left upright, and following up Watanabe can only send the rebound wide of the opposite post.
16 Mins: Dominant performance thus far from the Gas, a lovely ball angled cross-field ball from Kenta Mukuhara finding Hiroki Kawano in plenty of space on the right, but his cross flashes across the penalty spot with no FC Tokyo player near.
19 Mins: Kim Seung-Young heads Kim Song-Guk’s cross several feet wide of Hitoshi Shiota’s goal.
20 Mins: A superb clearance from Kim Young-Kwang is into the feet of Lee Keun-Ho, but his chipped pass for Maranhao is too heavy and Shiota is off his line to gather.
22 Mins: Referee Al Ghamdi wanders over to have a word with Ranko Popovic.
23 Mins: Hiroki Kawano cuts inside centre-back Lee Jae-Seong onto his left foot, Kenta Mukuhara cleverly pulling away to take an Ulsan defender with him, but his 20-yard effort is over Kim’s crossbar.
23 Mins: Midway through the first period, it’s Ulsan Hyundai 0 FC Tokyo 0.
26 Mins: Tatsuya Yazawa forces Young-Kwang into making a save. His effort from the edge of the 18-yard box is rising and the goalkeeper is required to push it over the crossbar.
27 Mins: The corner from the left is taken short by Tatsuya Yazawa to Hideto Takahashi, who immediately returns the ball to him. His lovely hanging cross into the six yard area should be finished by Jang Hyun-Soo at the back post. He somehow contrives to put his header wide, however, and the chance is lost.
31 Mins: Kim Dong-Suk nutmegs Takuji Yonemoto in midfield, and drives left-footed beyond the right post.
33 Mins: FC Tokyo playing the ball around in midfield, searching for an opening, eventually playing the ball out to the right for Yazawa. He crosses, but Kawano is unable to control his shot and it’s sliced wide.
35 Mins: Maranhao wins himself a free-kick under a challenge from Yuhei Tokunaga. It’s definitely an infringement, despite the protestations of Popovic. Five yards outside the penalty box and to the right, it’s in a good position to test the Gas defence.
37 Mins: GOAL! Go Seul-Ki drifts a cross to the back post which is headed goalwards by Kwak Tae-Hwi. Shiota saves but can only push the ball across his area, and Maranhao’s diving header then thuds against the crossbar. FC Tokyo just can’t clear, and defender Kang Min-Soo places the ball into the empty net under the body of Hideto Takahashi.
37 Mins: Ulsan Hyundai 1 FC Tokyo 0
40 Mins: The current scoreline would mean a trip to Guangzhou for the Gas.
42 Mins: Since the goal, Ulsan have been the stronger side.
44 Mins: There will be plenty to think about for Ranko Popovic at half-time. Ulsan are now sitting deeper and defending in numbers, a nominal 4-3-3 now reverting to a 4-5-1.
45 Mins: Hideto Takahashi volleys narrowly wide from distance. There will be one minute of added time to play.
45 Mins+1: Al Ghamdi brings the first period to a close.
HT: Ulsan Hyundai 1 FC Tokyo 0
HT: Kazuma Watanabe and Jang Hyun-Soo both failed to convert excellent chances for FC Tokyo in the first period, and were made to pay by an Ulsan side who had to that that point been outplayed by the away team. Should the scoreline remain the same for any significant amount of time in the second half, I would expect to see Yohei Kajiyama and Lucas take to the field.
46 Mins: Ulsan Hyundai have made one change at the interval, Kim Shin-Wook coming on.
46 Mins: In action in the second-half, FC Tokyo searching for a goal which would give them a crucial home tie in the Round of 16.
47 Mins: A free-kick for the Gas to the left of Ulsan’s penalty area. Tatsuya Yazawa will take, five yards in from the left touchline.
47 Mins: it’s curled into the area but too close to Kim Young-Kwang, who punches well clear of his penalty box.
49 Mins: Jang Hyun-Soo advances from a right-back position and lays off to Takuji Yonemoto, but he gives up the ball too easily.
50 Mins: And the first change is made by FC Tokyo, Yohei Kajiyama entering play at the expense of Hiroki Kawano.
50 Mins: Aria Hasegawa is deemed to have been pushed by Go Seul-Ki, and he is fortunate to win a free-kick in a dangerous area. It’s in the opposite position to that on 47 minutes, five yards in from the right touchline, which Yazawa will again take.
51 Mins: A solid header from Kang Min-Soo earns the Gas a throw-in deep in the Ulsan half, which comes to naught.
53 Mins: Jang Hyun-Soo fails to read a Tatsuya Yazawa back-heel on the right wing, and in attempting to challenge Maranhao, brings down the forward.
57 Mins: Twice Ulsan have nearly caught FC Tokyo on the counter-attack, and there has been worrying little sight of goal for the away team.
60 Mins: Takuji Yonemoto wins the ball strongly on the right, and feeds Tatsuya Yazawa. He steadies himself, and his shot on 22 yards is swerving away from Young-Kwang who makes a very good save diving to his left, with no FC Tokyo player able to follow-up as he grasps the ball at the second attempt.
62 Mins: Excellent close control from Yohei Kajiyama enables him to draw a foul from Maranhao, 26 yards from goal in a central position. Can the Gas find the equaliser?
64 Mins: Morishige and Yazawa are over the ball, three FC Tokyo players joining the wall, but as Morishige attempts to bend the ball over the line of players it’s headed out for a corner.
65 Mins: Yazawa’s driven cross is flicked across by Hasegawa but away from the penalty area, and Ulsan break down the right. Tatsuya Yazawa then gives away a free-kick, running into the back of Maranhao.
66 Mins: Kim Dong-Suk whips his cross into the penalty area, but Morishige is on hand to head out for a throw.
67 Mins: Hideto Takahashi gives away a further free-kick, and it’s almost exactly The same position from which Ulsan scored their first goal. Gim Dong-Suk floats the ball over, and Shiota jumps to catch.
67 Mins: Into the final quarter of this match, it’s Ulsan Hyundai 1 FC Tokyo 0.
68 Mins: Lucas is now being introduced in favour of Tatsuya Yazawa.
69 Mins: Lucas will be defending first of all, as Kim Dong-Suk sends a corner to the back post. It’s headed across goal, but Shiota claims the ball above the head of Maranhao.
72 Mins: Good play involving Lucas who acts as a pivot in midfield, twice laying off with one touch passes which eventually find Yohei Kajiyama. His cross is a little too high, however, and Ulsan eventually clear. Better from FC Tokyo.
73 Mins: An instinctive, looping header from Kim Shin-Wook after good play from Lee Keun-Ho is only just over Shiota’s crossbar.
73 Mins: And that’s the last of the action for Kim Dong-Suk, who is replaced by Lee Ho.
75 Mins: With 15 minutes left to play, it’s Ulsan Hyundai 1 FC Tokyo 0.
77 Mins: So close for Aria Hasegawa, a very smart stop from Kim Young-Gwang preventing his first-time effort passing to his left. It was a lovely move from the Gas, who have been a much-improved team since Lucas entered the fray.
78 Mins: Final change for Ulsan Hyundai, Choi Jae-Soo is replacing Maranhao. A very defensive change for the Horangi.
80 Mins: The last ten minutes of the group stage for FC Tokyo. Is there an equaliser in this match, or will they be made to regret several missed chances?
81 Mins: There’s a break in play as Jang Hyun-Soo goes over the legs of Kim Young-Sam, but he’s quickly to his feet.
82 Mins: Yohei Hayashi will be the final player to be introduced into play when there is a stoppage.
83 Mins: A corner for the Gas. Jang Hyun-Soo plays the ball off Choi Jae-Soo, and that’s the last action for the right-back as he comes off for Hayashi.
84 Mins: Kajiyama’s corner is easily cleared, and Lucas then fires well over the crossbar from long range.
86 Mins: Hayashi breaks clear of Jae-Soo on the right goal-line and the defender pulls him back to concede a free-kick, four yards to the right of the penalty area and level with the goalposts.
87 Mins: POST! It looks like it won’t be FC Tokyo’s night. The ball bobbles around the penalty area, and then a left-footed swipe from Kajiyama hits the outside of the woodwork.
90 Mins: Just three minutes added on.
90 Mins+2: A final chance for FC Tokyo, but Mukuhara is forced backwards outside the area. Lucas and Yonemoto exchange passes outside the penalty area, and Lucas drives but his effort is weak and easily saved by Kim. That’s the last action of the match.
90 Mins+3: Lucas’s shot is the final action of this encounter, as Al Ghamdi blows for full-time.
FT: Ulsan Hyundai 1 FC Tokyo 0.
FT: The Gas now must travel to China for a hugely difficult encounter at the Tianhe Stadium on 30 May against Guangzhou Evergrande in the Round of 16. This was a match from which they could easily have taken three points, but failed to put away a number of chances, and combined with an excellent performance from Kim Young-Kwang in the Ulsan goal, condemned them to second place in Group F.
FT: Thank you for joining me. A full match report will follow on 18 May.