Victory stun ACL champions Guangzhou
Australia`s Melbourne Victory stunned defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande 2-0 in Melbourne on Tuesday to stay in contention for the knockout rounds of the AFC Champions League.
The Socceroos` Mark Milligan scored in the second minute and James Troisi in stoppage time, meaning the Chinese Super League champions must wait until next week`s final match of Group G before they know whether they will advance.
It was Victory`s biggest win in four ACL campaigns and gives them a chance of reaching the knockout rounds if they can beat Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in South Korea next week.
Victory were ahead inside the opening 90 seconds, when Milligan won the ball in Guangzhou`s half and passed to Jesse Makarounas before continuing his run and finishing smartly.
The Australian side had several chances of extending their lead in the first half, particularly through Kosta Barbarouses, only to be denied by goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.
Guangzhou had more of the play in the second half as they searched for the equaliser but were thwarted by some excellent work from Melbourne goalkeeper Nathan Coe.
Coe saved instinctively from Brazilian Muriqui in the 71st minute before keeping out a strike from Feng Renliang seven minutes later.
Guangzhou looked certain to score off a swift counter-attack minutes later, only for Muriqui to prompt another great sprawling save from Coe.
But Victory made sure of their win in the first minute of stoppage time when substitute Andrew Nabbout sprung the offside trap and passed to Barbarouses, who put Troisi through on goal to wrap it up.
Marcello Lippi`s expensive side came to Melbourne without their Italy international Alessandro Diamanti due to injury and Guangzhou badly missed their leading ACL scorer`s finishing prowess.
"The most important thing for us was to win and we did that and it`s going to make the last round very interesting," Coe said.
"It`s a good way to start what is going to be a very important week for us," he said, referring to the A-League playoff against Sydney FC on Friday.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat said his young side were outstanding against the Chinese champions.
"That`s the fifth game in the ACL this season where we`ve gone ahead and we`ve learnt some lessons in this competition.
"To hold out the way we did and create the number of chances against a very good side with a lot of young boys was tremendous," Muscat said.
Guangzhou Evergrande will try to reach the second round in their final group match at home against Yokohama Marinos on April 22.
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