Three points on Tuesday night at Docklands kept the possibility alive of Melbourne Victory advancing through to the Round of 16 in this year's Champions League. Mark Milligan scored in the 2nd minute and James Troisi added a second in injury time to give the Victory an important win against competition holders Guangzhou Evergrande in Group G. The night's results, including Yokohama F. Marinos' win over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Japan leaves all four clubs equal on seven points with only goal difference separating them.
Evergrande, who scored four unanswered in the second half to defeat the Victory 4-2 in China in late February were without its top two goal scoring threats, Alessandro Diamanti (calf) and Gao Lin (suspension). Diamanti, who scored twice against Melbourne on Match Day 1 and Gao, who scored twice against Jeonbuk in Evergrande's other win, represented over sixty percent of the club's Champions League scoring. Their absences were keenly felt as the Victory took the early lead and never surrendered.
The goal from Milligan represented the Victory's seventh different goal scorer in five Champions League games. In fact, Melbourne have scored more than any other club in Group G but have also allowed the highest number, thanks in large part to Match Day 1. So that leaves everything to play for in next week's group stage finale at Jeonbuk on Tuesday April 22 at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium. Due to goal difference, the Victory will very likely need to win to guarantee advancement.
In between now and Tuesday, however, the Victory host Sydney FC in the first of the A-League's two Elimination Finals. That game will take place again at Docklands on Friday April 18. Winning would put Melbourne into the semifinal round which would take place either four or five days after the Champions League finale in Korea.
MVC Milligan 2'
MVC Troisi 91'
Melbourne Victory: Coe; Contreras, Leijer (Broxham 30'), Geria, Murnane; Milligan, Mahazi, Troisi, Makarounas (Alan 84'); Barbarouses, Pain (Nabbout 70')
Unused substitutes: Thomas, Traore, Galloway, Cristaldo
Guangzhou Evergrande: Zeng; Liao, Zhang, Feng X. (Feng R. 62'), Kim, Sun; Zhao X. (Rong 22'), Huang, Zheng (Mei 46'); Silva, Elkeson
Unused substitutes: Li, Zhao P., Feng J., Peng