Kawin the star as Muangthong sneak past JDT in Champions League shootout
The match was locked at 0-0 after 120 minutes, with TPL runners-up Muangthong United then booking a clash with Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG after a 3-0 win in the penalty shootout, with Kawin saving all three JDT attempts.
We did the best we could and our players showed some great performances, but we couldn't finish them off
For JDT, it’s a second season of disappointment in Asia’s top competition and they will now defend their title in the second-tier AFC Cup.
"Our team weren't in the best condition,” Muangthong coach Totchtawan Sripan said after the game.
“We only had one week for training, some of our important players were injured and new players have just come in, so they need more time.
"Meeting Johor is a tough game, their qualities are really great and they are a strong side. Their teamwork and technical ability are outstanding, but I'd like to give some credits to our players as well that fought really hard throughout the game"
JDT counterpart Mario Gomez was proud of his side and acknowledged the display of home ‘keeper Kawin.
"I think we did well today. We fought well until the last minute and lost in the penalty shootout," Gomez said during his post-match press conference.
"We did the best we could and our players showed some great performances during the first and second half, but we couldn't finish them off.
"We didn't have much luck in the penalty shootout. I believe in these situation there's a 50 per cent of chance of the player to score and 50 per cent for the keeper to make the save and sadly the opponent's keeper was the better guy.
"After this game, we will be fully focusing on domestic tournaments as well as the upcoming AFC Cup, that we'll enter as the defending champions."
JDT went into the match widely acknowledging that their opponents are of a different class and that Thai teams were still ahead of Malaysian clubs.
The Southern Tigers had suffered a 3-0 defeat to TPL side Bangkok Glass at the same stage last year.
Yet the visitors vowed to fight and they would stay true to their word against the Twin Quilins, taking the match to penalties after a scoreless 120 minutes.
Muangthong simply could not find a way past visiting ‘keeper Farizal Marlias, who came to the rescue on the occasions Muangthong broke away from the defence.
JDT skipper Safiq Rahim failed to make the right connection with the ball on his few opportunities while Suphan Thongsong's last ditch slide deflected away a Jorge Pereyra Diaz sitter in the 36th minute.
Muangthong's Brazilian forward Cleiton Silva squandered chances in the second half and even the introduction of feared striker Teerasil Dangda in extra time could not undo JDT's defence.
Kawin, who was not called into action many times during the game, was the star man in the shootout after he saved all three JDT penalty attempts, from Diaz, Marcos Antonio and Hariss Harun.
Silva, Peerapat Notchaiya and Sarach Yooyen made no mistakes from the spot, meanwhile, to give Muangthong a 3-0 win.
Muangthong visit China on February 8, while JDT start their AFC Cup defence against Myanmar's Ayeyawady United on February 24.
Additional reporting by Kritikorn Thanamahamongkhol
Photos: Johor Darul Ta'zim