Melbourne Victory took an improbable two-goal lead into halftime against the reigning Asian champions in China on Wednesday night. Twenty-six minutes later not only was the lead gone but Guangzhou Evergrande had gone ahead for good. In the end, the Victory dropped a 4-2 decision at the Tianhe Stadium in its first Champions League game since 2011.
Pablo Contreras scored the opener from a rebounded Kosta Barbarouses shot in the 36th minute, stunning the hosts. That surprise was doubled five minutes later when Leigh Broxham ripped a wonderful volley past Zeng Cheng. But the 2-0 score line could not last as Evergrande immediately put Melbourne on the defensive. Contreras cleared an Alessandro Diamanti free kick off the line early in the second half before the hosts finally found the back of the net.
Huang Bowen scored first for Guangzhou, just before the hour, with Diamanti scoring on his Evergrande debut just six minutes later. With the score even, the hosts went for the kill and Elkeson delivered in the 71st minute, scoring on a shot that ricocheted off of Nick Ansell and past Nathan Coe. Diamanti scored his second five minutes from time to add insult to injury and give the Victory a poor goal difference after just one game in the very difficult Group G.
Up next in the Champions League for Melbourne is home game against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Wednesday March 12 at the Etihad Stadium. The K-League's third place finishers routed J-League side Yokohama F. Marinos 3-0 on Wednesday in Jeonju. The Victory will play city rivals Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Saturday March 1.
MVC Contreras 36'
MVC Broxham 41'
GVE Bowen 59'
GVE Diamanti 65'
GVE Elkeson 71'
GVE Diamanti 85'
Guangzhou Evergrande: Cheng, Linpeng, Xiaoting, Elkeson, Zhi, Muriqui (Lisheng 46'), Bowen, Diamanti, Young-Gwon, Lin, Xiang
Melbourne Victory: Coe; Traore, Contreras, Ansell, Geria; Milligan, Broxham; Troisi, Makarounas; Thompson, Barbarouses