Melbourne Victory 2 Muangthong United 1
Melbourne Victory qualified for the group stage of the 2014 Asian Champions League with a hard-fought two-one win over Muangthong United from Thailand at Kardinia Park in Geelong in front of 8,304 fans. It was an open game with both teams creating a missing a host of opportunities. Both keepers pulled a string of excellent saves, though both would rue the goals that beat them.
Victory started as if it would steamroller its way to a result. James Troisi got clear down the left in the second minute but his cross was just too high for the leaping Kosta Barbarouses at the back post. Skipper Mark Milligan coming back after leg surgery was taken down in a severe tackle on the edge of the home penalty area, and was somewhat proppy for a while thereafter and mightily surprised that no free kick was given. Barbarouses was tripped on his next excursion into the final third, but the free kick had no result. Nick Ansell was booked for an offence in midfield, so both sides were taking things seriously.
The visitor won their first corner kick after 21 minutes. Macedonian winger Mario Gjurovski sent an inswinger towards the near post and Piyathon Buntao jumped in front of Scott Galloway who was unsighted on the near post. So he hardly got off the ground and being small the ball passed directly over him and into the net with Nathan Coe stranded in the middle of his goal. It was a soft one to lose.
Coe made amends with a strong save when Inyin Anuwatâ€™s deflected shot might well have added to the visitorâ€™s advantage. He also denied Milan Bubalo when the Serbian striker broke through the Victory defence.
The Japanese referee Masaaki Toma added one minute to the first half and Archie Thompsons was brought down in the area for a penalty kick. The referee drew a red card but then replaced it with a yellow for Pyathon Buntao. Mark Milliganâ€™s penalty was saved near his left hand post by the visiting keeper, Visanusak Kaewruang.
Victory began the second half chasing parity but Coe had to bring off another critical save to deny Teerasill Dangda who was clear through on goal. Tom Rogic powered a shot just over the bar at the other end, and then Coe was back in action to block Bubaloâ€™s shot once again. Finally Victory managed to turn its good midfield play into an incisive move. Fifty-eight minutes had passed when lovely sweeping series of passes found Scott Galloway overlapping on the right. He lifted the ball into the space in front of the keeper for James Troisi to head the equaliser.
The momentum was now with the home team but Muangthong brought on Jay Boothroyd in attack showing that they had no intention of settling for a draw, though they tried to break up the Victory rhythm by delaying play. It looked as if extra-time was going to be needed when Victory got its second goal.
Archie Thompson was through on the left but the keeper saved at the expense of a corner. When that came over Mark Milligan powered in a header but the keeper saved that too. The second corner was knocked back in the direction of midfielder Leigh Broxham who thrashed it goalwards. Whether it would have beaten the keeper is debatable but defender Thitipan Puangchan threw himself at the ball and deflected it past his keeper for a goal which takes Victory to the champions league. In injury time the Muangthong skipper Datsakorn Thonglao clashed with the Victoryâ€™s second scorer, Broxham, and was sent off by the referee.
Caption for featured image.
Muangthong goalscorer Mario Gjurovski is surrounded by Melbourne Victory players.