Depth finds Victory short

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick was left lamenting a lack of depth after his side crashed out of the AFC Champions League with a 0-0 home draw against Chinese side Beijing Guoan on Wednesday night.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick was left lamenting a lack of depth after his side crashed out of the AFC Champions League with a 0-0 home draw against Chinese side Beijing Guoan on Wednesday night.

With one match to go, Melbourne can't finish ahead of the second-placed Beijing side, meaning it is out of contention with one match remaining. Merrick said a lengthy injury list had taken its toll on a campaign which has yielded just one goal from five matches

"We're certainly unhappy with the results but I think our players did a fantastic in the Champions League under very difficult circumstances," he said.

"Of our bench of six players tonight, five of them are amateurs who have been playing in a youth team and training twice a week. We finished up with seven players 22 or under on the pitch and none of those youngsters have let us down."

But Merrick feels that if Melbourne was able to put its best team out on the park throughout the campaign, it would have been a very different outcome.

"I think we've definitely got good quality in our squad. I think any Australian team that manages to have a very fit and healthy side and put out close to their best XI, they will do well, like Adelaide has done," he said.

"As soon as we lose two or three players, you are delving into youngsters because of the way our squads are set up, the salary cap, the limited squad members. When you are competing against $20 million squads of 40 full-time professionals it is always going to be tough."

Meanwhile, Beijing Guoan coach Hong Yuanshuo is confident his side can progress to the second round of the AFC Champions League despite admitting he had mixed feelings after the 0-0 draw.

Beijing dominated Melbourne throughout the game but was unable to breach the home side's defence despite having several good chances. Hong said afterwards that he wasn't completely pleased with the performance but gave his side credit for performing well after travelling such a long way.

"I was both satisfied and unsatisfied with that performance," he said through a translator afterwards. "We created a lot of chances during the game, which was good, but we didn't put them away, which was not very good."

"There were plenty of positives signs out there, but unless we put the ball into the net then we can't be totally happy with a performance like that."

Merrick admitted his side was lucky to be level with the Chinese champion at half time after a sluggish start saw the visitors dominate the first 25 minutes.

"I thought the first 25 minutes we were flat. There was a lack of creativity. Mind you, when you've got the quality of players out that we had, like (Grant) Brebner, Tommy Pondeljak, Billy Celeski you are always going to be struggling for confidence in the midfield and good possession. We struggled in that period but we got better as the game went on," he said.

The point gained from this match sees Beijing one point clear of Kawasaki Frontale heading into the final match of the group between the two at the Workers Stadium on April 28. A draw in that match gets Beijing through to the round of 16 and Hong believes his side has what it takes to get the job done.

"That match will be played on our home ground and that will make a big difference. I am confident we can get the result needed to progress through," he said.

"While out there tonight we didn't put our best foot forward, we performed well enough to make me feel we can get done what we need to against the Japanese side."