Victory lament lack of luck

Melbourne Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic was left to lament a lack of luck and lack of composure in front of goals as his side threw away an excellent chance to gain a foothold on qualification from the AFC Champions League group stage in the 1-1 draw with Gamba Osaka.

Melbourne Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic was left to lament a lack of luck and lack of composure in front of goals as his side threw away an excellent chance to gain a foothold on qualification from the AFC Champions League group stage in the 1-1 draw with Gamba Osaka.

Gamba Osaka had dominated the three previous encounters between the two teams, including a 5-1 win when they met at Expo 70 Stadium in March, but on their own turf on Wednesday, Melbourne bossed this contest and should have taken home the three points.

They could have had a penalty when 1-0 up on 18 minutes, but the Qatari referee didn't spot a handball from Akira Kaji in the box. That moment, plus the fact Melbourne dominated both possession and territory in the second half stuck in Durakovic's mind as he mulled what could have been.

"We were very stiff not to get that penalty. If we get that, then it's 2-0 and the boys are in control," he said. "But I thought in the second half, the boys did really, really well."

"Everybody really played well tonight and we were a bit stiff not to come away with the three points."

Gamba Osaka manager Akira Nishino admitted his players had been surprised by the intensity of Melbourne's approach to the match and they struggled to break down a determined and disciplined defence.

"They were very strong, especially late in the game. Given what happened in the first game, I think my players were surprised," he said.

"It seemed as though they had a very strong spirit all across the park. They seemed to lift as it was (captain) Kevin Muscat's final game on home soil."

The Muscat factor was evident for all to see at Docklands Stadium, with the 37-year-old putting in a vintage performance and inspiring his young team-mates to arguably their best showing of the five matches to date.

"I think everyone could see the improvement (from the 5-1 loss)," Muscat said. "I think everyone that took the field in that match let ourselves down and let the football club down. And it was a complete contrast tonight."

"In years to come I'll reflect on tonight and the effort the boys put in for my last game in Melbourne was an unbelievable effort and I couldn't be prouder walking back into that change room. It's just unfortunate we didn't get the three points." he said.

Melbourne now need to beat Jeju United in Korea next Wednesday and hope other results go their way to progress. Durakovic said that his side has what to takes to get the job done.

"It's a little bit out of our hands but we'll go there and attack and try to get the win," he said.

Although disappointed with his team's performance, Nishino said he remains hopeful that Gamba Osaka can secure progress to the knockout rounds when they host Tianjin Teda next week.

"We have what it takes to play much better football than that and I think we will see that next week," he said.