Melbourne Victory have been beaten for the second match running in the Asian Champions League, going down 2-0 to Seongnam Ilhwa at Etihad Stadium.
In front of one of the poorest crowds in recent Victory history, the home side produced a lacklustre performance as an Australian player, Sasa Ognenovski, did the damage for Melbourne’s opponents for the second time after Joel Griffiths scored the winner for Beijing Guoan on matchday 1 two weeks ago.
Asian Champions League – Matchday 2
Melbourne Victory: 0
Seongnam Ilhwa: 2 (Sasa Ognenvoski 40’, Yun Young-Sun 85’)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Yellow cards: MV - Matthew Foschini 34’, Nick Ward 40’
SI - Kim Jin-Ryong 24’, Kim Sung-Hwan 44’, Jeong Kwang-Jin 51’
The Victory made three changes from their semi-final triumph in Sydney, bringing in Nik Mrdja, Matthew Foschini and Marvin Angulo for skipper Kevin Muscat who was rested, Tom Pondeljak who has a slight hamstring problem and Carlos Hernandez who was on the bench.
The opening ten minutes did not provide much an insight into the contest as both sides were just feeling each other out and working their way into the tempo of the match.
It seemed as though Melbourne settled first as they were enjoying plenty of forward forays and won several corners in a short amount of time, but the Seongnam defence, led by former Adelaide United centre-half Sasa Ognenovski held strong.
The 24th minute brought about the best chance of the opening half-hour when Robbie Kruse made a meaningful run into the area and although his first cross was blocked, he recovered to slide one across the face whilst on his back, into the path of Nick Ward but the midfielder’s shot deflected into the path of Angulo who struck a sweet volley which was well-held by Jung Sung-Ryong in Seongnam’s goals.
In the 40th minute, Nick Ward gave away a free-kick which was whipped into the area by Seongnam’s Maurico Molina as Dzenan Radoncic glanced a header onto the upright. The ball deflected back into play and the Victory defence were unable to clear it and Ognenovski pounced to smash a left-foot shot into a vacant goal, giving the visitors the lead.
Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick swung a change at half-time, bringing on the A-League Player of the Year Carlos Hernandez for Thai defender Surat Sukha whilst Seongnam’s Shin Tae-Yong brought on Ko Jae-Sung for Kim Cheol-Ho.
Just minutes into the second term, Seongnam broke again and almost made it 2-0 when Colombian forward Molina let fly from outside the area but his shot whistled past Langerak and the near post.
Sunday’s hero for the Melbourne Victory, Archie Thompson, entered the fray just prior to the hour-mark and it almost paid immediate dividends as he took his first touch towards goal within seconds.
A good chance each for both sides came shortly after with Seongnam’s Molina at one end scooping his shoot over the bar and then Victory’s Angulo hitting his ball past the near upright and into the side netting.
Melbourne were pressing hard for an equaliser but Seongnam skipper Ognenovski was continually blocking shots and cutting down through balls and guided his side to their second win from two matches in the group stage after Yun Young-Sun converted with an uncontested header from a corner five minutes from time as the Victory fell to the bottom of the Group E table without a point.
MV: Mitch Langerak (gk), Surat Sukha (46’), Leigh Broxham, Nik Mrdja (58’), Rodrigo Vargas, Matthew Foschini, Evan Berger (82’), Robbie Kruse, Nick Ward, Adrian Leijer (c), Marvin Angulo
Subs: Glen Moss (gk), Mate Dugandzic (82’), Archie Thompson (58’), Carlos Hernandez (46’), Luke Pilkington, Aziz Behich, Petar Franjic
SI: Jung Sung-Ryong (gk), Yun Young-Sun, Sasa Ognenovski (c), Jeon Kwang-Jin, Fabricio Souza, Dzenan Radoncic, Mauricio Molina, Kim Sung-Hwan, Kim Cheol-Ho (46’), Kim Jin-Ryong (74’), Hong Chul (80’)
Subs: Jung Eui-Do (gk), Ko Jae-Sung (46’), Song Ho-Young (74’), Kim Tae-Youn, Jang Suk-Won, Jo Jae-Cheol (80’)