Victory score late to snatch ACL thriller over Kawasaki
A last-minute goal from Kosta Barbarouses has handed Melbourne Victory a 1-0 win over Kawasaki Frontale to breathe new life into their 2018 AFC Champions League campaign.
Just when an entertaining clash looked like finishing goalless, Barbarouses popped up to fire in the winner for Victory’s first success of the group stage.
The result had boosted Victory’s hopes of progressing out of Group F, with five points from four games.
Kevin Muscat’s side holds destiny in their own hands with two more group games to come against Shanghai SIPG and Ulsan Hyundai next month.
STORY OF THE GAME
KAWASAKI HIT THE BAR: It took a stunning save from Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas to deny the visitors taking a 10th-minute lead, getting his fingertips on Yoshito Okubo’s rasping drive from outside the box.
CLEARED OFF THE LINE: A scuffed clearance from Kawasaki’s keeper fell to James Troisi inside the box and the Victory star showed great awareness to control and get his shot on goal. But skipper Shogo Taniguchi was back on the line to clear the danger.
ABSORBING ACTION: It was end-to-end stuff as first Besart Berisha and then Okubo both had headed attempts go just wide within minutes prior to the half-hour mark.
VICTORY DODGES A BULLET: The ball somehow ends up in Thomas’ hands despite Okubo looking certain to score from close range after the ball pinballs around the area.
HALF-TIME: Despite some gilt-edged opportunities the teams head to the break goalless.
ATTACKING CHANGE: Looking to find a spark after the break, Victory boss brought on attacking youngster Josh Hope for defender Stefan Nigro just before the hour mark.
ANTONIS’ AUDACIOUS LOB: Midway through the second half the Victory playmaker was inches from opening the scoring, with his long-range effort sailing just over with the Kawasaki gloveman well off his line.
THOMAS SAVES AT FULL STRETCH: With 15 minutes left, Kentaro Moriya’s deflected strike looked destined for the corner of the net only to be denied by a fine diving save by Thomas.
GOAL RULED OUT! Kawasaki thought they had the lead with 10 minutes left when Yu Kobayashi had the ball in the net from a free-kick, only to be denied by an offside flag.
CHANCE: Approaching stoppage-time, James Troisi’s inch-perfect corner was met by a powerful header by James Donachie but the ball floated just past the post.
GOAL! Victory’s late pressure finally pays off as Barbarouses beats the keeper at his near post.
Kosta Barbarouses, Victory 90’: 1-0
James Troisi’s dinked ball into the box was chested down by Terry Antonis, with Barbarouses moving the ball onto his left foot before his low drive was too good for the keeper.