Melbourne Victory stun Guangzhou Evergrande


An inspired performance from Nathan Coe helped Melbourne Victory to a memorable 2-0 win over Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday night.

An inspired performance from Nathan Coe helped Melbourne Victory to a memorable 2-0 win over Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday night.

The goalkeeper, dropped for his inconsistent performances earlier this season, produced a succession of top-quality saves to deny the competition’s holders.

Kevin Muscat’s team had been guilty of failing to put the game away by missing some good opportunities after Mark Milligan’s second-minute opener.

But James Troisi secured the points with an injury-time goal, as the unexpected three points draws the A-League side level with the Chinese Super League champions on seven points in Group G going into Victory’s final game away to Jeonbuk Motors next week.

Right from kick-off at Etihad Stadium there was barely a moment in which to draw breath, the hosts taking the lead in the second minute through skipper Milligan, who poked the ball beyond goalkeeper Zeng Cheng after being played in deftly by Kosta Barbarouses.

Five minutes later Victory failed to capitalise on a good opening from a corner and were immediately caught on the counterattack, Jason Geria called on to intercept Muriqui’s dangerous pass across the face of goal after the Brazilian forward had raced beyond his man and into the penalty area.

Barbarouses should have made it 2-0 in the 13th minute, taking advantage of some haphazard Evergrande defending to find himself one-on-one with the keeper. He had too much time to consider his options, and made a mess of a glorious opportunity by shooting straight at a grateful Zeng.

Victory were forced into a change just before the half-hour mark, centre-back Adrian Leijer limping off to be replaced by Leigh Broxham.

Either side of that substitution Evergrande threatened twice, Geria called on to deny Elkeson with an inch-perfect sliding tackle inside the box.

Elkeson then split the Victory defence to play his compatriot through one-on-one, Muriqui – like Barbarouses – failing to seize the chance as Nathan Coe saved well with his feet.

The away team’s best spell of the game continued as, on 33 minutes, left-back Sun Xiang launched a dipping half-volley from range which Pablo Contreras cleared with his head just in front of the goal-line.

Eight minutes into the second half it was Makarounas’ turn to fluff his lines, scuffing a weak shot straight at Zeng after Connor Pain’s cross had found him unmarked at the back post.

Evergrande had to wait until the 61st minute to genuinely worry the Victory goal in the second term, last-ditch expert Contreras heading off the line from Elkeson’s free-kick.

Nine minutes later Elkeson went close again, the Brazilian sending a downward header into first the turf and then the arms of Coe when unmarked just metres out for goal.

By now the pressure was really mounting, prompting a steady stream of chances for the visitors in a five-minute barrage.

In the 72nd minute Muriqui had a shot from inside the area well saved by Coe, before cutting inside and driving at the Victory backline two minutes later, only halted by an excellent Geria block.

It was then the turn of substitute Feng Renliang to have a go, getting past Dylan Murnane and drawing a brilliant save from Coe down low to the goalkeeper’s right.

The siege resumed moments later, as Evergrande broke from a corner to find themselves outnumbering the Victory defence three to two. Elkeson played in Muriqui, who was somehow denied yet again by the inspired Coe.

The hosts weathered that spell of sustained pressure and Evergrande’s chances fizzled out, before a brilliant counterattack involving Milligan, Barbarouses and substitute Andrew Nabbout set up Troisi to tuck home the decisive second, sparking wild celebrations among the Victory players and staff.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Milligan 2′, Troisi 91′)
Guangzhou Evergrande 0

13,120 @ Etihad Stadium