Group F: Melbourne Victory (AUS) 1-1 Guangzhou Evergrande FC (CHN)
Melbourne: Australia's Melbourne Victory picked up their first point in their 2019 AFC Champions League Group F campaign after coming back from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw with Guangzhou Evergrande of China PR on Tuesday.
With their hopes of progressing from Group F all but extinguished after their 4-0 loss to Guangzhou on Matchday Three, Kevin Muscat made eight changes to his starting 11 from their A-League game last Friday.
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It had the desired effect with the home side starting brightly and coming close to opening the scoring in just the second minute when full-back Storm Roux saw his header tipped over the bar by Guangzhou goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo.
Liu was forced into another fine save to deny Terry Antonis on 17 minutes as Melbourne pushed hard for the opener.
Despite their bright opening, a needless turnover from the Melbourne defence led to the opening goal as Corey Brown’s errant pass was pounced upon, with Paulinho running to the byline before cutting the ball back for Gao Lin to tap home on 24 minutes.
But no sooner had Guangzhou taken the lead than they conceded at the other end, with Gao Zhunyi’s cut out of Antonis’ pass falling at the feet of Jai Ingham who finished coolly to make it 1-1 two minutes later.
Fabio Cannavaro’s side should’ve restored their lead on 29 minutes when Anderson Talisca, the man who caused all the damage in their previous match, somehow put his shot wide.
The tight affair continued in the second half, with Yang Liyu forcing a fine save out of Lawrence Thomas before Antonis came within a whisker of a sensational goal at the other end.
It was Guangzhou who finished stronger, but first Paulinho and then Talisca put efforts wide as Melbourne survived to earn their first point of the campaign.
The draw puts the Chinese powerhouse on top of Group F on seven points, and they are on the road again on Matchday Five when they travel to Japan to take on Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while Melbourne Victory travel to Korea Republic to face Daegu FC.
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