Shanghai SIPG down Victory in ACL

Melbourne Victory’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League took a hit following a 3-1 loss away to Shanghai SIPG on Tuesday night.

Two goals in two minutes did the damage for the hosts with Yu Hai and Elkeson netting just prior to the break to put the Chinese outfit in control.  

Dario Conca sealed the result midway through the second half from the penalty spot to confirm Shanghai as Group G winners with a game to spare.  

Jesse Makarounas pulled a goal back for Victory with less than 10 minutes but it proved to be little more than consolation for the visitors.

Earlier, Suwon Bluewings downed Gamba Osaka 2-1 to move level with Victory on six points, ensuring the race for second spot will come down to match day six on May 3.

Fresh from their Hyundai A-League exit just four days earlier, Kevin Muscat made three changes to his side with Archie Thompson, Scott Galloway and Nick Ansell promoted to the starting lineup.

But it was Shanghai who started the brighter and the hosts had a decent chance to open the scoring in just the 6th minute,  with Wu Lei firing just over the crossbar from the edge of the area.

Victory gradually grew into the game and were unfortunate not to take the lead on the half-hour mark with Kosta Barbarouses striking the crossbar with a fizzing effort from 18 yards.

And that near miss proved costly with Shanghai opening the scoring just eight minutes later.

Dario Conca delivered a teasing free kick to the back post which was headed back across goal by Wu Lei, with Yu Hai on hand to smash home the ball from point blank range.

The hosts doubled their advantage less than two minutes later with Wu Lei pouncing on an errant pass from Daniel Georgievski before teeing up Elkeson who expertly slotted past Lawrence Thomas.

Melbourne had a glorious chance to pull one back just a minute later through Archie Thompson but the striker’s point blank effort was superbly kept out by Shanghai keeper Yan Junling.

The hosts were gifted a third just after the hour mark when Scott Galloway inexplicably handled the ball inside his own box with the referee correctly awarding a penalty.  

Dario Conca stepped up the spot and expertly fired past Lawrence Thomas to give Shanghai a 3-0 advantage.

Victory should have pulled one back with 15 minutes remaining through Besart Berisha, with the Albanian miscuing a shot from 10 yards out after being set up by Archie Thompson.

Jesse Makarounas did manage to net a consolation for the visitors with just under 10 minutes remaining, with the substitute calmly slotting the ball home from a neat Jason Geria cut back.

Melbourne Victory play host to Gamba Osaka in their final Group G match on May 3, with a win guaranteeing Kevin Muscat’s side a place in the Round of 16.