Victory end ACL on a high with entertaining win over Shanghai SIPG

Melbourne Victory have finished their AFC Champions League campaign with an entertaining 2-1 win over Shanghai SIPG at AAMI Park on Wednesday night.

With Victory unable to progress to the knockout stages, Kevin Muscat handed starts to inexperienced trio Christian Theoharous, Kenny Athiu and Pierce Waring, along with back-up goalkeeper Matt Acton.

And the move paid dividends with an energetic Victory dominating the opening stanza with Athiu and Waring combining to hand the hosts the lead five minutes before the break. 

Shanghai equalised on the counter-attack on the stroke of half-time before Jai Ingham restored Victory’s advantage with a classy header midway through the second half.

Brazilian superstar Hulk threatened for the visitors as the game progressed but Victory held firm for a deserved win. 

Opta Widget: MELB

STORY OF THE GAME

BRIGHT START FOR VICTORY: A positive opening for the hosts with Theoharous and Athiu looking lively as Victory dominate possession in the early stages.

HALF-CHANCE: Shanghai have their first sight on goal with Elkeson’s long-range free-kick easily gathered by Acton.

SO CLOSE! Victory almost grab the lead midway through the first half with Theoharous firing just wide after a neat ball over the top from Athiu.

SAVE: Shanghai continue to grow into the contest with Elkeson again forcing Acton into a regulation save with an effort from distance.

INTO THE BOOK: Victory’s Josh Hope and Shanghai’s Yu Hao both go into the book in quick succession for poor challenges.

GOAL VICTORY! The hosts take the lead five minutes before the break with Pierce Waring’s deflected effort finding the back of the net.

SHANGHAI STRIKE BACK! The visitors make it 1-1 right on the stroke of half-time with Lin Chuangyi slotting from close range.

HALF TIME: Both sides go into the sheds at 1-1 after an entertaining first half. Victory dominating possession but Shanghai looking threatening on the counter.

CHANCE! Victory’s Kenny Athiu fires over well over the bar less than two minutes after the restart.

BIG CHANCE! A fortunate ricochet falls to Athiu in the box but the striker loses composure and blazes his strike well wide.

GOAL! Victory regain the lead with Jai Ingham burying a header with just over 20 minutes remaining.

DOUBLE SAVE! Matt Acton denies Hulk with a fabulous stop before reacting quickly to stop Elkeson on the follow-up.

CLOSE! Hulk’s powerful effort from distance deflects just wide of Victory’s goal.

DEBUT:  16-year-old Birkan Kirdar comes on for Victory in the 88th minute for his senior debut. 

FULL TIME: Victory survive a late charge from Shanghai to record a deserved 2-1 win at home.

GOALS

1-0 Melbourne Victory: Pierce Waring, 40’

Kenny Athiu was released down the left flank with the big striker delivering a superb ball into the area which Waring turned home via the aid of a deflection.

1-1 Shanghai Shenhua: Lin Chuangyi, 45’

Elkeson played Lü Wenjun in behind with the attacker’s square ball finding Chuangyi who calmly slotted past a helpless Acton.

2-1 Melbourne Victory: Jai Ingham, 68’

Terry Antonis worked an angle on the left and delivered an inviting cross into the area with Ingham peeling off his marker to dispatch a clinical header.