By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
The reigning Thai Premier League champions found themselves behind at the SCG Stadium just six minutes in when veteran striker Lee Dong-gook fired the K-League giants ahead from the spot, after Panupong Wongsa was harshly adjudged to have felled Seo Sang-min inside the area.
In what emerged to be a curious first half, Jeonbuk, buoyed at taking the lead, began to dominate the possession stakes but the hosts looked the more threatening in the attacking third, with Teerasil Dangda blazing over from a good position in the 10th minute, before Kim Yoo-jin and Phichitphong Choeichiu both failed to convert excellent freekick deliveries from Mario Gjurovski.
Nonetheless, the Twin Qilins were handed a penalty of their own in the 45th minute when Lee Kyu-ro hauled Teerasil down inside the area after being cleverly turned by the Thailand international, allowing Gjurovski to step up and send an audacious chipped penalty straight down the middle and into the back of the net.
Having pulled level, Muangthong continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides after the break and Austrian import Roland Linz was unlucky not to put them ahead with two good headed attempts; the first saved by Choi Eun-sung in the 48th minute, while the second came back off the post six minutes later.
Desperate to avoid an embarrassing opening-day defeat, Jeonbuk boss Fabio Lefundes then rang the changes by bringing on Lee Seung-gi, Park Hee-do and Kevin Oris.
And it proved to be an inspired move in the 78th minute as two of them combined to put the visitors ahead once more; Lee floating it a pinpoint cross for Oris to nod home in emphatic fashion.
But Muangthong were not to be denied and earned a deserving share of the spoils a minutes from time when Kim made a darting run to the near post and met a Phichitphong corner with a glancing header that took a nick off Jeong Hyuk and sailed past a stranded Choi into the bottom corner.
Over in Group E, Muangthong's fellow Thai Premier League giants Buriram United also opened their campaign with a draw after holding J.League side Vegalta Sendai 1-1 at the Yurtec Stadium Sendai.
Having conceded the penalty that led to Ryang Yong-gi's 52nd-minute opener for Sendai after being penalised for handball, Spanish centre-back Osmar Barba turned from villain to hero as he rose highest inside the opposition box in the 14 minutes from time to head home an Anthony Ampaipitakwong corner.
Starting XIs - Vegalta Sendai vs Buriram United
Vegalta Sendai: Takuto Hayashi, Toshihiko Uchimaya, Naoki Watanabe, Makoto Kakuda, Kodai Watanabe, Naoya Tamura, Shingo Tomita, Ryang Yong-gi, Yoshiaki Ota (Takayuki Nakahara 89'), Yuki Muto (Hayato Sasaki 84'), Shingo Akamine (Wilson 72').
Buriram United: Sivaruck Tedsungnoen, Suree Sukha, Pratum Chuthong, Osmar Barba, Theerathon Bunmathan, Carmelo Gonzalez (Ekkachai Sumrei 87'), Charyl Chappuis, Surat Sukha, Anawin Jujeen (Anthony Ampaipitakwong 40'), Kai Hirano, Ramses Bustos.
Starting XIs - Muangthong United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Muangthong United: Weera Koedpudsa, Piyaphon Buntao, Panupong Wongsa, Kim Yoo-jin, Artit Daosawang (Sarawut Masuk 84'), Mongkol Namnuad (Weerawut Kayem 85'), Dagno Siaka, Phichitphong Choeichiu, Roland Linz, Teerasil Dangda, Mario Gjurovski.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors: Choi Eun-sung, Lee Kyu-ro, Lim You-hwan, Jung In-hwan, Park Won-jae, Kim Jung-woo, Jeong Hyuk, Song Je-heon (Lee Seung-gi 67'), Seo Sang-min (Kevin Oris 58'), Leonardo (Park Hee-do 76'), Lee Dong-gook.