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Originally published by Philippine Star

United City FC started its AFC Champions League campaign on a sour note, dropping a 1-0 heartbreaker to Korea’s Jeonnam Dragons last Friday at the Pathum Thani Stadium in Thailand.

The Philippine champs fought their Korean opponent on even terms for a good part of the Group G opener but failed to stop Kosovan striker Leonard Pllana from scoring the winner three minutes from time.

After getting denied a couple of times, Pllana found space in the box to send his close range shot past United keeper Anthony Pinthus to secure the full three points for the Dragons, the second tier outfit to win the K League’s FA Cup and qualify for the ACL.

Jeonnam took pole position in the group ahead of Thailand’s BG Pathum Thani and Australia’s Melbourne City, which battled to a 1-1 stalemate in the other match.

“It’s always a difficult one conceding in the 87th minute, which makes a defeat a lot worse,” said UCFC coach Jason Withe, who however expressed happiness with the team’s performance despite the circumstances.

Withe’s team is competing without two of its main players –  Bienvenido Maranon and Stephan Schrock, who didn’t renew their contracts.

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