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Melbourne Victory Qualifies for 2014 Asian Champions League

15 February 2014 No Comment

Melbourne Victory came back from a goal down to beat Thailand’s Muangthong United 2-1 in a thrill-a-minute playoff in Geelong and qualify for the lucrative AFC Champions League.

A late deflected goal from long-serving midfielder Leigh Broxham gave Victory the spoils in an absorbing contest that ebbed and flowed form the first to the last minute.

Victory could afford to miss a penalty through captain Mark Milligan on the stroke of halftime when it was a goal down.

Victory will take part in the competition proper for the fourth time and will play in Group E alongside China’s Guangzhou Evergrande, Japan’s Yokohama F Marinos and the Korea Republic’s Joenbuk Motors.

“It was a performance deserving of a victory and it was only a matter of time. I was convinced that there was no way we would have gone another 45 minutes without scoring,” Victory coach Kevin Muscat said later.

The match opened brightly and after Tom Rogic saw his neat header flash past the post midfielder Mario Durovski gave notice of Muangthong’s intent with a dipping shot from distance that beat Nathan Coe but finished fractionally wide.

Victory dominated possession and attacked from both sides but Muangthong defended bravely and counter-attacked with intelligence.

Its tactical approach was rewarded in the 22nd minute when it took the lead after an inswinging corner kick from Durovski eluded friend and foe and finished up in the back of Victory’s net.

Victory was unlucky not to draw level when the lively Kosta Barbarouses got behind Muangthong’s defence and James Troisi pounced on his cut-back but his shot at goal was deflected to corner.

The visiting team replied with a placed drive from captain Teerasil Dangda that was at the right height for Coe to turn to corner.

Victory had a glorious chance to get back on level terms when it was awarded a penalty after Archie Thompson was put through by Troisi and was upended by Piyaphon Buntao.

Milligan however saw his weak low shot saved in two attempts by Visanusak Kaewruang.

Muangthong could have taken a two-goal lead 10 minutes into the second half when Durovski forced Coe into a good save on the deck.

Two minutes later, however, Victory equalised when fullback Scott Galloway centred beautifully for the unmarked Troisi to find the net with a header.

Substitute striker Jay Bothroyd was next to test the excellent Coe with a placed shot as both teams threw caution to the wind and went for the jugular in search of victory.

Troisi had an excellent chance of covering himself in glory but he got his shot horribly wrong after being put cleanly through by Rogic, who played a superb match until he tired towards the end.

The action was relentless at both ends and Thompson and Milligan brought the best out of Visanusak but the agile goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Broxham from giving Victory the lead with a deflected shot seven minutes from time.

Tempers flared in the last moments of the game and Datsakorn Thongiao was sent off for headbutting Broxham.

Coe, who played one of his best games for Victory, said later he was thrilled at the prospect of playing in the Champions League.

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