Muscat praises Victory’s character after fighting ACL draw with Ulsan
Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat has hailed his team’s fighting qualities after they fought back from behind three times in the AFC Champions League opener against Ulsan Hyundai on Tuesday night.
In a thrilling contest, Victory fell behind on three different occasions only to respond within minutes each time to secure a 3-3 draw with Korean side at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
“I thought we settled the better and then overall…for us to peg back three leads was an outstanding effort from the group and reacted to going down three times, it was outstanding,” Muscat said.
“The second goal from Leroy [George], the build-up was phenomenal. To play with that sort of confidence, against a very good team that we should respect, but naturally to concede three goals at home [was disappointing] but I think the reaction from the group was the most telling thing.”
Dutch winger Leroy George was the star for Victory, scoring two goals in the first half before setting up Rhys Williams’ equaliser after the break with a sensational free-kick.
Besart Berisha’s performance also pleased Muscat, with the star striker setting up both of George’s goals.
“The composure that we showed in midfield and to play out, to persist and keep playing out, and dominate possession and dominate the ball, leads to Leroy and Bes (Berisha), who was outstanding tonight, involved in the first two goals and really put in a performance, the foundations for us to perform the way we did,” the Victory boss said.
“Those efforts give Leroy and Jimmy (Troisi) and Kosta (Barbarouses) the opportunities to perform in that front third of the park.
“When you get back and have a look at that second goal again, it was a very good goal."
With this weekend off in the Hyundai A-League, Victory can put all their focus on next Tuesday’s clash with Shanghai SIPG in China.
Shanghai boasts a star-studded squad with the likes of Brazilian stars Oscar and Elkeson.
Asked about Victory’s hopes of progressing from a very tough group, Muscat said: “It's early. Who knows what's going to happen down the track?
“I think what we did see is we showed a great appetite for this competition in our performance and, like I said, a group of players, even the boys who came on, fought for the football club, fought for each other, fought for me, and it was pleasing to see.
“We take the next game on and see where it takes us."