Western Sydney Wanderers FC’s have held FC Seoul to a hard-earned 0-0 draw in a lacklustre AFC Champions League clash in Korea on Wednesday night.
Struggling in the Hyundai A-League but often saving their best for the ACL, the Wanderers defended stoutly for much of the match and could have snatched a win at Seoul’s World Cup Stadium in the second half.
Labinot Haliti was inches away from giving Tony Popovic’s troop victory mean his 20-yard strike smashed into the cross bar,while Kerem Bulut also went close on two occassions.
The result keeps the Wanderers in second spot in the group, equal on points with third-placed FC Seoul but with superior goal-difference.
It was a poor night for the Wanderers on the injury front, with Matthew Spiranovic limping off after just 39 minutes with a recurrence of his hamstring injury.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Spiranovic wasn’t their only casualty.
Just before kick-off with striker Tomi Juric forced to pull out of the starting side after suffering some hamstring tightness during the warm-up.
Kerem Bulut came into the line-up but the young striker rarely had a sight of goal in what was a cagey start by both sides in the first 15 minutes.
It was the home side that had the first real chance just before the midway point of the half after some poor defending by Antony Golec and Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
The duo combined to rebound a clearance right into the path of Mauricio Molina, but the playmaker could only curl his shot over the bar from just inside the box.
That was as close as either side would come in a largely disappointing first half with neither ‘keeper seriously tested.
FC Seoul lifted the tempo after the break and started pushing the Wanderers defence further back but the visitors also began to look dangerous on the counter attack.
It was only a timely defensive header by Cha Du-Ri which denied Nikita Rukavytsya a chance to volley in at the far post from Yusuke Tanaka’s cross.
The Wanderers went even closer just after the hour mark when Haliti was given time to turn just outside the box but his rasping drive cannoned back off the crossbar.
Bulut had the next chance for the Wanderers, capitalizing on a surging run by Romeo Castelen but ‘keeper Yu Sang-Hun was quickly out to smother his effort, while Castelen blasted the rebound into the side-netting.
Substitute Lee Seok-Hyun almost stole it for FC Seoul late on when his low drive went just wide of Ante Covic’s post before Bulut wasted a golden chance three minutes from time, hitting his one-on-one opportunity straight into the ‘keeper.
The two sides meet again on April 7 at Parramatta in what looms as a pivotal clash to see who will progress to the knockout phase behind group leaders Guangzhou Evergrande.
FC Seoul 0
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0