Matthew Foschin takes the ball on his chest, surrounded by team-mates and opponents.
Melbourne Victory 2 Tianjin Teda 1
By Roy Hay
Melbourne Victory gained its first win in this season’s Asian Champions League with a come-from-behind two-one result against Tianjin Teda at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
In the first minute the Tianjin Teda keeper dived on a loose ball following a cormer kick and Kevin Muscat put his foot in to try to prise the ball loose.
That set the tone for the early exchanges which were quite willing for a while and several of the visitors went down after challenges, not all of which were untoward.
Robbie Kruse, Surat Sukha and Yu Dabao were all booked in the first 6 minutes, and inside half an hour, Tianjin had lost two defenders as first Kwon Jip and then Li Weifeng had to be replaced following injuries.
The visitors looked sharp but Victory seemed to be keeping them at arms length and worked its way out of danger with the kind of fast passing movements and running off the ball which Mehmet Durakovic has been trying to instil.
However, the Victory passing in the forward third was diabolical, with numerous overhit efforts.
The match took a major turn in the 37th minute.
Kevin Muscat found himself facing a couple of opponents and tried to turn on the ball wide on the left but was robbed by Chen Tao who sprinted through a huge gap and finished with a shot just inside the far post.
The scorer celebrated in front of the hundreds of Chinese fans, many of them students in the Victorian universities, who had come to support Tianjin.
It looked as if Victory would go to the interval a goal down, but Robbie Kruse was bundled over by Liao Bochau about 35 metres from goal and the Chinese player was booked.
It seemed too far out for Carlos Hernandez but his curling free kick was untouched as it flew into the net past a dive by Zhao Yan Ming in 44 minutes.
Adrian Leijer’s deceptive run across the box wrongfooted the keeper, who could not change direction quick enough when Leijer did not make contact with the ball.
A minute later Kruse was barged over in the box by Cao Yang, but this time in the penalty box and the result was a spot kick and a booking for the Chinese skipper.
Kevin Muscat did his usual immaculate job from the spot.
So Victory went from one down to one-up in a couple of minutes.
The second half saw a number of chances created by the home team, but none were taken.
Isaka Cernak put one effort wide from a driven cross by Kruse, which Leigh Broxham also could not reach.
Grant Brebner fired another chance well over the bar and substitute Danny Allsopp had a couple of excellent runs but was caught on both occasions when he turned inside.
At the other end, Tianjin always threatened to grab an equalising goal, winning a series of corners and free kicks in dangerous areas.
One of these was the result of a tackle by Surat Sukha which resulted in a second caution and his sending off in the 82nd minute.
Durakovic’s work on defending set-pieces seemed to have paid off as none of these resulted in the break through Arie Haan’s team sought.
Despite heavy rain at times, the roof of Etihad Stadium remained open, as it had been when both teams trained on Tuesday, and Haan insisted that the conditions remained unchanged for the match.
The rain made the pitch a little slicker, but probably took some of the firmness out of the surface.
Afterwards Mehmet Durakovic was delighted with the effort from all his players and only disappointed that none of the second half chances were taken.
A series of bookings for time wasting or dissent means that Matthew Foschini, keeper Tando Velaphi and Isaka Cernak will have to be very careful in the remaining matches if Victory is to qualify for the knock-out stage.
Before the game this looked well out of reach, but with Gamba Osaka winning the position has tightened up, and while it is improbable that Victory will advance, a home win against Gamba on 4 May could make this group very exciting indeed.
Match details (unofficial)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Carlos HERNANDEZ, 44’, Kevin MUSCAT, 45’ PEN) Tianjin Teda 1 (Chen TAO 37’))
Date: 20 April 2011
Competition: Asian Champions League Group E Rd 4
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30 pm
Referee: FGHANI ALIREZA
Assistant Referees: HASSAN KAMRANIFAR and KARIMI MORTEZA
30 Tando VELAPHI, 2 Kevin MUSCAT, 5 Surat SUKHA, 6 Leigh BROXHAM, 8 Grant BREBNER, 10 Archie THOMPSON, 16 Carlos HERNANDEZ (13 Diogo FERREIRA 92’), 17 Matthew FOSCHINI, 19 Isaka CERNAK, 21 Ribbie KRUSE (18 Danny ALLSOPP 80’), 23 Adrian LEIJER,
Unused substitutes: 4 Petar FRANJIC, 11 Marvin ANGULO, 12 Rodrigo VARGAS, 15 Tom PONDELJAK, 20 Sebastian MATTEI
Yellow cards: Robbie KRUSE 13’, Surat SUKHA 16’, Isaka CERNAK 70’, Tando VELAPHI 71’, Matthew FOSCHINI 72’.
Red cards: Surat SUKHA 82’ (second yellow)
1 Zhao YAN MING, 3 Kwon JIP (23 Wu WEIAN 20’), 5 Li WEIFENG (2 He YANG 30’), 7 Li BENJIAN, 9 Obiora Emmanuel ODITA, 14 Bai YUFENG, 15 Liao BOCHAU, 16 Zhang XIAOBIN, 21 Chen TAO, 22 Yu DABAO (30 Olguin Luciano ESTEBAN 74’), 26 Cao YANG
Unused substitutes: 8 Hu RENTIAN, 25 Yang QIPENG, 27 Ma LEILEI, 29 Fan BAIQUN
Yellow cards: 22 Yu DABAO, 16’; 15 Liao BOCHAU, 44’; 26 Cao YANG 45’
Red cards: Nil