Victory top Group G despite draw
Nick Ansell summed up Melbourne Victory’s first two AFC Champions League games, stating “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation”, believing that if Victory can maintain their current form “…we should be looking good towards the end of the group stage”.
In what was a record breaking night, Victory had lost all 12 of its previous away games in the Champions League, the visitors were gifted a goal after just three minutes.
Ansell had a header blocked, which bounced around in front of goal before deflecting off the leg of Gamba Osaka’s Shu Kurata and rolling into the back of the net.
The goal gave the Victory confidence, as the side used quick ball movement to advance the ball.
The defence of the Japanese side was up to the task, as the A-League outfit had limited time and space when in possession, compared to when they faced Shanghai SIPG.
Besart Berisha looked most likely to add a second goal for Victory as he had two shots on target, however both were hit directly at the keeper for easy saves.
Neither side had any real chances, as the defences for both stood firm, particularly Victory’s Matthieu Delpierre, Jason Geria and Danny Vukovic.
When called upon, all three at various points in the match negated attacks from the J-League side, with Delpierre keeping Brazilian Patric quiet for much of the first half.
Osaka had several near chances towards the end of the first half, but were unable to land a final blow as multiple shots were sprayed high and wide.
The restart saw Gamba come out the stronger of the sides, using pace to push forward into the final third of the pitch.
Patric collected an Archie Thompson turnover and shot from outside the box, only being denied by an outstretched Vukovic, who pushed the ball onto the crossbar and away from goal.
The home side drew level in the 56th minute as captain Yasuhito Endō ran behind Jai Ingham and headed a cross from the left wing into goal.
It was then Osaka’s turn to attack as the side went closest to taking the lead, however its finishing in front of goal left much to be desired, as multiple chances either sailed high/wide or stopped by Vukovic.
The Japanese side went close to stealing all three points shortly before the final whistle as Yōsuke Ideguchi played a looping, cross field through ball that needed a fine save by Vukovic to deny the home side at the death.
Despite not being able to find a winner, Leigh Broxham was happy with the result, stating that to “…pick up a point is always good because it’s a difficult place to come”.
He added “…picking up points early in this competition is pretty important”.
Victory’s next Champions League match will be at home against Suwon Bluewings FC, who currently sit bottom of the group, on the 15th of March.