Melbourne City have given a major boost to their Asian Champions League hopes in Thailand with a hard-earned group stage win over Korean outfit Jeonnam Dragons.

Melbourne City - Jeonnam Dragons

  • Melbourne beat Jeonnam 2-1 in the Asians Champions League.
  • Goals from Carl Jenkinson and Andrew Nabbout secured the win.
  • City are now third in their Group G, with three more matches to go in the group stage.

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The A-League Men champions were second best in the Pathum Thani Stadium on Thursday night against the well-drilled underdogs but came away resiliently with a crucial 2-1 win, thanks to first-half goals from Carl Jenkinson and Andrew Nabbout.

The victory has put Patrick Kisnorbo's men back to second in Group G on seven points at the halfway point of the group stages, behind Thai side BG Pathum United only on goal difference.

But the Australian champs have much work ahead if they're to top the group and earn automatic qualification for the knock-out stages after being outplayed for large stretches of the game against a second division Korean outfit.

It proved a historic evening, with Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita and her two assistants Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi becoming the first all-female trio to officiate in an AFC Champions League match.

And referee Yamashita had her work cut out too as she had to cool fraying tempers near the end of the match, which concluded with both sets of players getting involved in a melee.

City had a bit of luck too with both of their goals coming via deflections, although Nabbout's 22nd minute winner was just reward for a powerful, barrelling run which saw him outmuscle three challengers before firing home.

Jenkinson, the former Arsenal and West Ham full-back who's played in the European equivalent of the Champions League, was the first to strike in the 12th minute.

He fired speculatively from outside the box after the Jeonnam defenders backed off him and he looked the picture of delight as he watched his shot creep in off the far post.

Jeonnam deservedly equalised just four minutes later when Kyu-Hyuk Lee caught Jenkinson napping on City's right flank, nipping in to latch on to a long diagonal ball from Jang Seong-jai and fire past Tom Glover's near post.

Captain Nabbout, who'd also scored a beauty in the opening match against Pathum, then took matters into his own hands by powering inside through three challenges from the right flank and smashing in a shot which took a deflection off Jang Sun-hyuck's boot.

Glover, who may have felt responsible for conceding the opener, made amends with a couple of fine saves from the dangerous Kim Tae-hyun and one off his own teammate Rostyn Griffiths, who inadvertently nearly bundled in an own goal after a corner kick.

Jeonnam, who outshot City with 10 goal attempts to the Australians' four, still looked on top for large spells in the second period with Park In-hyeok missing an easy header with 10 minutes left.

City, though, held on for a key victory, while understanding just how difficult their next group match against the same opponents at the same venue on Sunday will be.

Earlier on Thursday, BG Pathum United had hammered Filipino side United City 5-0 in their home stadium to stay on course to return to the knockout stages for a second successive year.

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