Melbourne Victory reach group stage of Asian Champions League

Graham Denholm

James Troisi and Leigh Broxham scored to send the Victory into Asia for the first time in three years.

Melbourne Victory joined fellow A-League clubs Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners in the 2014 Asian Champions League group stage by defeating Muangthong United 2-1 at Simonds Stadium in Geelong. The come-from-behind affair brought second half goals from James Troisi and Leigh Broxham to send the Victory back to the group stage for the first time since 2011.

The Thai visitors surprised Victory fans in Geelong by scoring first through Mario Ǵurovski in the 22nd minute. The strange goal came directly from a corner and put the home side in a difficult position. That position was made more frustrating when Mark Milligan's penalty was saved in first half injury-time by Muangthong goalkeeper Visanusak Kaewruang.

Ǵurovski nearly made it a two-goal deficit for the Victory but Nathan Coe produced a brilliant save early in the second half to keep Melbourne's chances of the group stage alive. From there, the Victory rebounded quickly and forced their way back into the game. Just before the hour, Troisi headed in the equalizer from a Scott Galloway cross, setting up a tough but well played final half hour. In the 82nd minute, Milligan headed a corner on frame, forcing a fine save from Kaewruang. Less than a minute later, Broxham rifled home what proved to be the match-winner.

Winning Saturday's qualifier places the Victory in the very difficult Group G along with tournament holders Guangzhou Evergrande of the Chinese Super League, Yokohama F. Marinos of the J-League and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of the K-League. Melbourne don't have to wait long to kick off this continental campaign with the first game coming a week from Wednesday on February 26 at the Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou.

Scoring:

MTU Ǵurovski 22'

MVC Troisi 58'

MVC Broxham 83'

Line-ups:

Melbourne Victory: Coe; Traore, Ansell, Contreras, Galloway; Milligan, Broxham; Rogic, Troisi; Barbarouses (Nabbout 65'), Thompson

Muangthong United: Kaewruang; Thitiphan, Piyaphon, Tossapol (Phairod 90'), Suriya; Datsakorn, Anuwat (Bothroyd 55'), Sarawut; Bubalo, Durovski (Wuttichal 81'), Terrasil

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