Muangthong United cruised into the qualifying playoffs of the 2018 AFC Champions League after beating Johor Darul Ta’zim 5-2 in the second preliminary round on Tuesday.
The Thai giants got off to a dream start at the Supachalasai Stadium when Adisak Kraisorn beat the offside trap to race onto Theerathon Bunmathan’s visionary lofted pass, before sliding a pass across the six-yard box to leave Sarach Yooyen with an open goal to slot into.
They then doubled their lead in the 21st minute when Theerathon found space inside the area after being picked out by Heberty and unselfishly squared the ball to give Tristan Do the simplest of tap-ins.
The contest was then effectively over two minutes before the half-hour mark as JDT centre-back Bruno Soares gave away a penalty, which was duly converted by Heberty past Izham Tarmizi.
However, the hosts refused to take their foot off the pedal and Theerathon grabbed a deserving goal in the 57th minute as he was once again released by Heberty, and made no mistake in drilling a shot into the bottom corner.
And, five minutes later, Heberty grabbed his second of the evening with a sublime freekick from the edge of the box that left Izham completely stranded.
To their credit, Johor never gave up and pulled a couple of goals back in injury-time courtesy of a brace from Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
His first was a fine curling effort from just outside the area, and he added another after racing down the left and brushing off Adisorn Promrak’s challenge before firing past Kampon Pathom-attakul.
AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2018 – PRELIMINARY STAGE 2 | JANUARY 23RD, 2018
MUANGTHONG UNITED [5-2] JDT
(Sarach Yooyen 7' / Tristan Do 21' / Heberty De Andre 28'(pen), 62' / Theerathon Bunmathan 56')
(Jorge Pereyra Díaz 90+1', 90+3') pic.twitter.com/jQWem4d1NS
— JOHORSouthernTigers (@OfficialJohor) January 23, 2018
Nonetheless, it was little more than a consolation as JDT are resigned to play AFC Cup football again this season, while Muangthong march on to a meeting with Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in a week’s time.