Superb rearguard action earns Victory
by Tomasz Ng:
AFC Champions League 2014, Group Stage – Matchday 2
7:30pm, Tuesday 18 March – Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne
Melbourne Victory FC 1
(Kosta Barbarouses 9′)
Yokohama F. Marinos FC 0
A heroic defensive effort saw Melbourne Victory finally get their first win of the Group Stage as they defeated Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Kosta Barbarouses got the Victory off to the perfect start, slotting the ball under Enomoto Tetsuya for the only goal of the game in the ninth minute.
The home side then had to resist enormous pressure from their Japanese counterparts, who were unable to find an equaliser despite dominating possession.
Conditions in the evening were perfect for a football match, and both sides came out intent to nab an early goal.
Indeed it was the Victory who struck first, with Barbarouses getting on the end of a superb through ball from Jimmy Jeggo to score the game’s solitary goal.
Jeggo showed impressive vision to spot the pass, threading the ball through a small gap that was left open by Yokohama.
Chances were few and far between in the game, but the visitors really began to hit their groove after the 20th minute mark.
Perhaps summing up Yokohama’s half, their only real shot came from Mikado Yuta, who skied a shot over the bar after good work from Saito Manabu.
Victory did manage to send a huge scare to Yokohama on the stroke of half time, when Barbarouses broke through the Yokohama defence with help from Troisi, then dummied two defenders and curling a shot that missed the far post by millimetres.
Sensing his side needed more a cutting edge, Yokohama boss Yasuhiro Higuchi replaced Mikado with Jungo Fujimoto at the break and the change almost brought instant dividends.
The midfielder shot just over the bar with his first touch, before cracking a well taken free kick onto the crossbar just minutes later.
Saito was also proving to be a constant danger on Yokohama’s left flank, with his lightning pace causing plenty of problems for Victory right back Jason Geria.
The diminutive winger missed a gilt edged chance on the hour mark, with a shot from around the penalty spot curling agonisingly wide of the post.
Yokohama then missed another good chance a couple of minutes later when Saito and Fujimoto combined well on the left flank, with the latter’s shot narrowly missing the near post.
Saito was one again involved a minute later, when he forced Lawrence Thomas into making a save.
The Victory custodian spilled the awkward ball into the path of Yuhei Sato, but threw himself at the feet of the winger and made a vital save.
It was looking more like when and not if Yokohama were going to score, but they were hit with a sucker punch in the 75th minute when Victory counter attacked.
Mark Milligan swung in a great ball from the right which found Barbarouses, and the New Zealand international finished with aplomb, celebrating with glee before realising the linesman had questionably raised his flag for offside.
The call was a tight one and Yokohama probably should’ve made the most of their good fortune when Saito played in substitute Yoshihito Fujita, but the forward’s finish was woeful, his effort going well wide of the near post.
Saito was the centre of most things good for the Japanese side by this point and he tried to curl a through ball to Fujimoto in the 83rd minute, but the half time substitute was not able to put a foot on the ball despite throwing himself at it.
Narawa Yuta then had a volley fly just wide of the upright again, after Victory failed to clear a corner.
It was not Yokohama’s day in front of goal and in fact the Victory counter attacked brilliantly in stoppage time, with Tom Rogic also missing the target with a close curling effort.
The home side had the ball in the back of the net again in the second minute of added time, when Rogic forced Enomoto into a good save, and Barbarouses poaching a goal after beating a couple of defenders on the rebound.
But once again the linesman chalked the goal off for offside.
It proved to be the final action of a thrilling game, and the home side were delighted to finally see out a match having taken the lead in the AFC Champions League this season.
20. Lawrence Thomas [GK], 2. Pablo Contreras, 6. Leigh Broxham (5. Mark Milligan +57’), 9. Kosta Barbarouses, 10. Archie Thompson, 14. James Troisi, 16. Rashid Mahazi (21. Tom Rogic +73’), 17. James Jeggo, 23. Adrian Leijer, 25. Jason Geria (24. Scott Galloway +63’), 27. Dylan Murnane
Unused subs: 1. Nathan Coe [GK], 4. Nicholas Ansell, 13. Andrew Nabbou, 26. Jordan Brown
Yellow Cards: Thomas 48’, Contreras 54’, Barbarouses 59’, Murnane 77′, Jeggo 83′
Red Cards: Nil
Yokohama F. Marinos:
1. Enomoto Tetsuya, 4. Kurihara Yuzo, 6. Ogura Shohei, 9. Takuro Yajima (19. Yoshihito Fujita +61’), 11. Saito Manabu, 13. Kobayashi Yuzo, 15. Fabio, 17. Hanato (25. Jungo Fujimoto +46’), 20. Yuhei Sato, 24. Narawa Yuta, 26. Mikado Yuta (8. Nakamachi Kotsuke +78’)
Unused Substitutes: 30. Rokutan Yuji [GK], 14. Kumagai Andrew, 23. Takumi Shimohira, 27. Tomisawa Seitaro
Yellow Cards: Ogura 18’, Kurihara 90’
Red Cards: Nil
Referee: Mohd Amirul Izwan Bin Yaacob
Assistants: Mohd Sabri Bin Mat Daud, Mohd Yusri Bin Muhamad, Suhaizi Bin Shukri
Pitch Rating: 8/10
Game Rating: 8/10
3. Lawrence Thomas
2. Saito Manabu
1. Kosta Barbarouses
By Tomasz Ng