Melbourne crashes again

Melbourne's prospects of qualifying for the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League are all but over after the 2009 Hyundai A-League champion was comfortably beaten 4-0 by Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.

Melbourne's prospects of qualifying for the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League are all but over after the 2009 Hyundai A-League champion was comfortably beaten 4-0 by Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.

Melbourne was backing up just 72 hours after losing the Hyundai A-League Grand Final to Sydney in a penalty shootout and looked decidedly sluggish as last year's J-League runners-up put three goals past a bedraggled Victory defence in the first 21 minutes.

Chong Tese, Masaru Kurotsu and Renatinho all scored before Melbourne had chance to settle into the match and while Chong was sent off in the final moments of the first half, Kawasaki still was able to claims its first points of the tournament with ease as Hiroyuki Taniguchi scored in the final minute to top off the win.

The only positive out of the night for Melbourne was that Seongnam Ilhwa defeated Beijing Guoan in the other match, meaning Victory remain six points adrift of second spot with just three matches remaining.

Kawasaki began the game in an attacking mood and after three minutes, Renatinho beat two Melbourne defenders and slid a perfect pass to Chong Tese at the near post. The North Korean international made no mistake from the angle, and it was 1-0.

The warning signs were certainly there for Melbourne and on nine minutes, Chong Tese got clear again and shot just wide.

The home side won a free kick soon after and a precise effort from Yukuke Tasaka found Kurotsu unmarked in the box. His shot was half-accidental but was good enough to beat Glen Moss and make it 2-0 after 11 minutes.

With the ball sliding along the slippery surface quickly, both sides were making plenty of fouls and five players were booked in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Melbourne's first decent chance came from a Carlos Hernandez set-piece on 19 minutes, but the Costa Rican blasted it into the wall. Renatinho showed how it was done two minutes later, collecting the ball in the midfield, powering into space and unleashing a shot which again gave a hapless Moss no chance.

The visitors' first shot on goal came in the shadows of half time when Robbie Kruse won a free kick, and after it was taken quickly, Rody Vargas sucked in at the near post, only to head wide.

In an extraordinary end to the half, Chong Tese was sent off for kicking Grant Brebner when the Victory midfielder was trying to help him up.

Renatinho continued to torment Melbourne down the right wing and on 54 minutes, Evan Berger was replaced by Matthew Foschini. Marvin Angulo then replaced Robbie Kruse and Victory enjoyed their best period of the match.

But possession and time in their attacking half produced nothing of substance for Melbourne, which failed to test out Eiji Kawashima in the home side's goal.

Nik Mrdja had a couple of good chances, but over ran the first and shot over with the second, while Hernandez pulled wide from range. Up the other end, a brilliant piece of athleticism saw Moss deny Tokanobu Komiyama.

Nick Ward made way for Mate Dugandzic late on and the youngster impressed, creating a couple of opportunities which unfortunately resulted in nothing of note, meaning Melbourne has yet to score a goal in this ACL campaign.

Taniguchi kept his head in a goalmouth scramble and scored from close range in the final minute, while a horror night was complete when Leigh Broxham was sent off.

Melbourne Victory 0 Kawasaki Frontale 4 (Chong Tese 3, Kurotsu 11, Renatinho 21, Taniguchi 89) At Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium