Slick Seoul down spirited Mariners

Central Coast Mariners’ 2014 AFC Champions League Group F campaign got off to a difficult start on Tuesday, with Phil Moss’s men defeated 2-0 by FC Seoul in the Korean capital.

Central Coast Mariners- 2014 AFC Champions League Group F campaign got off to a difficult start on Tuesday, with Phil Moss-s men defeated 2-0 by FC Seoul in the Korean capital.

Choi Yong-soo-s men put in a polished performance in their first competitive match of the year, displaying the slick attacking prowess and passing play that helped take them all the way to the 2013 AFC Champions League Final.

The Mariners fought bravely at the 66,000-capacity Seoul World Cup Stadium, but were undone just after the half hour when referee Fahad Almirdasi awarded a highly contentious penalty after minimal contact appeared to be made between Central Coast defender Joshua Rose and Seoul attacker Sergio Escudero.

Spaniard Osmar Barba Ibanez stepped up to the spot and cannoned a low left foot drive into the back of the net off the post to send Seoul a goal to the good.

Prior to Osmar-s opener the Mariners had done well to repel the best advances of the black and reds, with the side-s defensive structure a highlight of their performance.

With the Mariners- strong defensive play limiting Seoul to few clear-cut chances to open the scoring, the home side opted to try their luck from range. Custodian Liam Reddy produced a sharp save from a fierce strike by the elegant former Buriram United defender in the 13th minute.

Osmar-s penalty punch came at a time when the yellow and navy were enjoying one of their best spells of the half, though FC Seoul had certainly crafted the better of the opportunities to break the deadlock.

After the interval the Mariners continued to produce a disciplined performance without the ball, as Choi charges, as expected, dominated possession.

The endeavour and hard work of Bernie Ibini down the right side was almost rewarded when his cross found Rose inside the box in the 50th minute. Unfortunately for Moss-s Mariners, Rose scooped his shot over the bar to let the home team off the hook.

If Seoul-s first from the spot had more than a touch of good fortune about it, their second underlined why they are one of the top teams not only in the K-League Classic, but Asia.

After a smart shimmy by Escudero, left wingback Kim Chi-woo played a neat pass into the box which was clinically stoked beyond Reddy by Tsingtao Man of the Match, Yun Il-lok.

Reddy did well to deny Seoul from making the score 3-0 in both the 62nd and 78th minutes respectively. In the first instance, Reddy reacted quickly to block a Chi-woo effort, before the former Esteghlal shot-stopper raced off his line to thwart the best intents of the same Seoul player.

Ultimately, the capacity of FC Seoul to control possession starved Central Coast of any obvious opportunities to get back into the match late on, and the Mariners- night was soured with the clock winding down as centre back Marcel Seip was shown a straight red for a challenge on Il-lok in the 84th minute.

Post match, Central Coast Mariners boss Moss said he was proud of the application of his players against a “very, very good” Seoul side.

“I am very proud of my players,” he said. “I thought defensively tonight we did a very good job against a very, very good FC Seoul outfit who move the ball very well. They have players who can hurt you all over the park.”

“I didn-t believe it was a penalty, so it came at a disappointing stage of the match with the game at 0-0 -- I thought we were just starting to come into the game a little bit.”

“Obviously the second goal ended the game. At 1-0 we had a fantastic chance to score on our left side and didn-t take that chance.”

“But I have nothing but praise for my players tonight, they did well in a tough environment, and some decisions certainly went against us during the game.”

“To come here and put up such a brave fight leaves me with a lot of pride, especially given FC Seoul crushed Jiangsu Sainty 5-1 in their first match of last season-s AFC Champions League.”

“We can leave here with our heads held very high and it gives us a lot of confidence moving back into the [Hyundai] A-League this weekend.”

FC Seoul 2 (Osmar 32- (pen), Il-lok 56-) Central Coast Mariners FC 0 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, Korea Republic

Central Coast Mariners FC: 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 7. John HUTCHINSON (C), 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 15. Storm ROUX, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Bernie IBINI (9. Mitchell DUKE 71-), 26. Kim SEUNG-YONG (17. Anthony CACERES 85-) Substitutes not used: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 6. Brent GRIFFITHS, 22. Tom SLATER, 28. Glen TRIFIRO, 29. Mat SIM Yellow cards: Fitzgerald Red cards: Seip

FC Seoul: 1. Kim YONG-DAE (Gk), 4. Kim JU-YOUNG, 5. Cha DU-RI, 6. Kim JIN-KYU (C), 7. Kim CHI-WOO, 9. Sergio ESCUDERO (18. Kim HYUNSUNG 90+2-), 13. Go YOHAN, 22. Koh MYONGJIN, 24. Yun IL-LOK (10. RAFAEL 85-), Osmar BARBA IBANEZ, 29. Lee SANGHYEOB (16. Kang SEUNG-JO 61-) Substitutes not used: 3. Lee WONGHEE, 17. Choi HYUNTAE, 23. Han ILKOO (Gk), 27. Ko KWANG-MIN Yellow cards: Nil Red cards: Nil

Referee: Fahad Almirdasi Attendance: 6,491