Victory fall to Gamba blitz

Melbourne Victory have succumbed to an early blitz from Japanese powerhouse Gamba Osaka in their opening AFC Champions League match, losing 5-1 at the Expo 70 Stadium after conceding three goals in the first 11 minutes.

Melbourne Victory have succumbed to an early blitz from Japanese powerhouse Gamba Osaka in their opening AFC Champions League match, losing 5-1 at the Expo 70 Stadium after conceding three goals in the first 11 minutes.

In a disastrous start to their campaign to progress from the group stages of Asia's biggest club tournament for the first time, Melbourne were never in the contest and were completely out-classed by last year's J-League runners-up.

A powerful effort from Takuya Takei, a penalty from Brazilian import Adriano and a tap-in to Lee Keun-Ho had Gamba Osaka up 3-0 in the blink of an eye.

While Victory pulled a goal back through skipper Kevin Muscat from the spot on 22 minutes, Gamba sealed the points when Takahiro Futagawa scored in the 63rd minute and then completed the humiliation with Kim Seung-Yong heading home in stoppage time.

The remarkable aspect of the first 12 minutes of the game was the fact that as well as conceding three goals, Melbourne had three chances to score themselves. In the third minute, a quick free kick from Muscat gave Archie Thompson a chance but he hit his shot straight at the keeper.

A minute later, Gamba won a corner and the clearance found Takei alone on the edge of the box. He hit a low shot which Michael Petkovic had no chance of saving.

Seconds later, Danny Allsopp shot just wide, but on seven minutes, it was 2-0 to the home side when Lee wrong-footed Muscat in the box, drawing a foul from the veteran defender. Adriano was forced to re-take the penalty, but the Brazilian's nerve held strong to score on debut.

Melbourne were getting torn apart down the wings, and Yasuhito Endo's clever ball set up the third on ten minutes. Adriano's cross was pin-point and Lee tapped in for a 3-0 advantage.

Shell-shocked, Melbourne tried to muster a response and a long effort from Marvin Angulo was on target but didn-t trouble Yosuke Fujigaya. Needing to reshuffle, coach Ernie Merrick called for Billy Celeski to replace Diogo Ferriera in just the 15th minute.

The formation change had an almost immediate effect and when Thompson broke through the defence on 20 minutes, he forced Takumi Shimohira to bring him down and for the second time, the referee pointed to the spot. Muscat got his redemption for his earlier error with a well-taken spot kick.

The chances continued to flow at both ends. Petkovic saved well from Adriano before Allsopp hit the post. Victory then looked to have pulled another one back when Rody Vargas headed home in the 40th minute, but he was ruled offside.

The tempo dropped in the second half, but Victory were lucky not to concede inside the first ten minutes with Petkovic saving well from Adriano and a shot soon after blocked by a desperate defence.

But three minutes after the hour mark, Adriano again weaved his magic, beating two players and squaring for Futagawa to crash home from close range.

Gamba looked likely to score a fifth on several occasions, and it finally came in the 91st minute. Lee again cut a path down the right and his cross found compatriot Kim at the back post.

Melbourne's away ACL record now stands at a dismal six losses and one draw from seven matches. They now host Jeju United, who earlier lost to Tianjin Teda, at Docklands on March 15, looking to kick-start their campaign after such a poor start.

Gamba Osaka 5 (Takei 4, Adriano 7p, Lee 11, Futagawa 63, Kim 90+) Melbourne Victory 1 (Muscat 22p) At Expo 70 Stadium, Osaka