Melbourne Victory have finally got their first win of this season's Asian Champions League with a narrow triumph over Kawasaki Frontale. A second half Kevin Muscat penalty was the difference between the sides as the Victory recorded their first points and kept their chances of progressing to the Round of 16 hanging by a thread.
The opening 20 minutes of the match provided little of note with both sides trying to edge forward and get on the end of through balls from the midfield but with more speculative shots from range being attempted rather than pinpoint crosses to players in goalscoring areas.
One of the best chances for Kawasaki came in the 27th minute when Renatinho cut in from the right flank and put his shot across goal but Mitch Langerak was up to the task with a diving save whilst down the other end, Melbourne's Carlos Hernandez came close with a blast from close range the swung wide of the mark.
Then things began to look ominous for the Victory when Langerak was called on to make two brilliant saves - the first one coming from a Masaru Kurotsu shot from inside the penalty area and then an absolute gem, diving to his left from a Kurotsu header after inch-perfect cross from the right side.
The Victory were finding it hard to keep control of the ball in the latter stages of the first half as Kawasaki found time and space in midfield but it almost was their downfall in the 40th minute when Robbie Kruse worked off his man but his powerful shot from a tight angle just outside the six yard box could have been directed better and the visitors were given a big let off.
The first 45 minutes ended with no score despite Kawasaki having plenty of good chances and it looked as though the Victory had their work cut out for them in the second term.
Kawasaki had a great chance immediately after the re-start of play when Renatinho made perfect contact with a sliding volley but Victory skipper Kevin Muscat was in the right place at the right time and he managed to knock it away to safety.
That kicked the Victory into gear and they finally got a bit of luck when Kruse went down on the edge of the area just prior to the hour-mark and the referee pointed to the spot. Skipper Muscat stepped up to the plate and exorcised some demons from his Grand Final by slotting it past Eiji Kawashima and giving the home side an unlikely lead.
Moments later, Langerak was at his best again when Kurotsu again attempted to slam one past him but the 21-year old gloveman was having a superb night and kept it out with a reflex save.
And with twenty minutes remaining, the Victory were saved again by Langerak when Yusuke Tasaka drove powerfully from outside the area but a fingertip was enough to send the ball rocketing into the crossbar and keep the Japanese side at bay.
Kawasaki went on the search of an equaliser but the home side were able to snuff out any chances and record their first win of the 2010 Asian Champions League and join Kawasaki on three points.
MV: Mitch LANGERAK (gk), Kevin MUSCAT (c), Surat SUKHA, Grant BREBNER, Rodrigo VARGAS, Carlos HERNANDEZ, Matthew FOSCHINI, Robbie KRUSE (73' Mrdja), Nick WARD (71' Berger), Adrian LEIJER, Marvin ANGULO (88' Ferreira)
Subs: Glen MOSS (gk), Evan BERGER (71'), Nik MRDJA (73'), Diogo FERREIRA (88')
KF: Eiji KAWASHIMA (gk), Hiroki ITO, Yusuke IGAWA, Yusuke TASAKA (90' Kimura), Masaru KUROTSU, Takanobu KOMIYAMA, Yusuke MORI, Junichi INAMOTO, Kyohei NOBORIZATO (68' Vitor Junior), Hiroyuki TANIGUCHI (c) (62' Kusukami) , RENATINHO
Subs: Takashi AIZAWA (gk), Jumpei KUSUKAMI (62'), Vitor JUNIOR (68'), Yuji KIMURA (90')