Victory suffer heartbreak after ACL stalemate


Melbourne Victory have bowed out of the 2014 AFC Champions League on goal difference following a 0-0 draw away to Jeonbuk Motors on Tuesday.

Melbourne Victory have bowed out of the 2014 AFC Champions League on goal difference following a 0-0 draw away to Jeonbuk Motors on Tuesday.

Only a win away from home would have sufficed for Kevin Muscat’s undermanned team, who did brilliantly to deny their hosts at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium, but proved unable to mount a significant threat at the other end of the pitch.

Defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande topped Group G on 10 points after beating Yokohama F Marinos 2-1 in China. Jeonbuk joined them in the round of 16 as runners up, having finished level with Victory on eight points but, crucially, with a goal difference one better than their Australian opponents.

Winning in South Korea proved to be one step too far and a somewhat cruel end to an impressive campaign in Asia from Muscat’s team, who are yet to progress from the group stage after four attempts in the competition.

Their attention now turns to Sunday’s Hyundai A-League semi-final against premiers Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.

Victory, missing several players, went into the game very much the underdogs against a team sitting second in the K-League. But the visitors, despite enjoying plenty of possession, threatened only sporadically in the first half.

Lee Seung-Ki was the first Jeonbuk player to truly test Nathan Coe with a shot from a central position just outside the penalty area after Jesse Makarounas gave away the ball in the 18th minute.

Less than 60 seconds later Leonardo flashed a shot over the bar from close range, and a few minutes after that some good work by the Brazilian down the left flank led to Hyuk Jung slamming a shot high above Coe’s goal.

The last best chance of the opening half fell to Jung, whose shot from the edge of the area was parried behind by Coe after a clever Jeonbuk corner.

Going in level at the break came at a price for the visitors, who lost Makarounas and Scott Galloway to injury in quick succession late in the half, to be replaced by Kosta Barbarouses and Jason Geria respectively. Jeonbuk had already been forced into a change of their own, with Gyo-Won Han coming on for Nam-Il Kim.

Leonardo continued to be a threat early in the second term, getting in behind Geria to send a dangerous pass across the face of goal on 56 minutes, before testing Coe from range two minutes later.

The task became harder still for Victory in the 69th minute, when Adrian Leijer succumbed to a foot problem, requiring Adama Traore to move across to the centre of defence and prompting the introduction of Dylan Murnane at left-back.

Despite the disruptions, the away team continued to defend doggedly, denying Jeonbuk time and space and producing a number of desperate tackles to snuff out shooting opportunities.

Their only real chance of the second half fell to veteran forward Archie Thompson, who, despite appearing to be in an off-side position, forced goalkeeper Soon-Tae Kwon to tip a toe-poked effort over the bar.

Minutes earlier Jae-Myung Lee was perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty when he handled the ball inside the area, a soft free-kick having already been awarded in the defender’s favour for a push from Barbarouses.

Jeonbuk Motors 0
Melbourne Victory 0