Sport Football Melbourne Victory fight back to secure ACL draw

Melbourne Victory fight back to secure ACL draw

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Melbourne Victory survived a battering from Jeonbuk Motors to draw 2-2 in their opening home match of their Asian Champions League campaign.

A first-half header to Nick Ansell gave Victory a barely deserved halftime lead but they were undone in four second-half minutes by two goals to Lee Dong Gook at Etihad Stadium.

With 10 minutes remaining, Kosta Barbarouses fired between the legs of Jeonbuk goalkeeper Choi Eun Sung to square the match.

A youthful Victory side were under the pump for much of the match against the former ACL winners, relying on the heroics of 21-year-old goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas to stay ahead after Ansell’s opener.

The pair was part of another defensive experiment from coach Kevin Muscat, who returned Ansell and Adama Traore to his back four but sprung a surprise keeping midfielder Leigh Broxham there too.

Jimmy Jeggo kept his spot in midfield, with teenage talent Jesse Makarounas retained after a strong ACL debut in China last match-day.

Victory should have taken the lead through Barbarouses when a deflection gave him a one-on-one chance after 10 minutes but he failed to trouble the keeper.

From there, Victory struggled with Jeonbuk wide men creating a series of chances, going closest on 28 minutes when Leonardo touched past Geria and fired onto the crossbar.

But it was Victory which grabbed the lead with a sucker punch from a dubious free kick.

Kosta Barbarouses misses a shot at goal.
Kosta Barbarouses misses a shot. Photo: Getty

Makarounas, whose dead balls created two goals in Victory’s ACL opener against Guangzhou Evergrande, again was the provider after 31 minutes.

His sharp free kick found Ansell at the back post, who could barely miss.

Victory’s lead at halftime was preserved by two incredible Thomas saves – the first a courageous smother from an indirect free kick in the penalty box, the second a one-handed save from Choi Bo Kyung’s header.

After the break Jeonbuk continued to challenge strongly, with Thomas at full strech to deny Seung Gi’s volley.

The Korean side dominated territory, with Mark Milligan regularly cleaning up Jeonbuk attacks.

Thomas was again to the rescue on 70 minutes, stopping Lee from point blank range, but the veteran Korean international then struck twice.

First beating Thomas on the rebound after the keeper palmed away a tricky long-range effort, Lee struck a fabulous effort from thirty yards into the top corner.

As Victory looked like repeating their second-half fade out from their opening ACL 4-2 loss, Barbarouses beat the offside trap to run at goal and net to share the spoils.

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