Ex-Victory man eliminates City from Asian CL

Melbourne City pulled out of the Asian Champions League – thanks to a late goal from a man who played for long-distance rivals Victory.

The Australian champions were set to celebrate their progress to the knockout stages on Sunday night as they eagerly awaited the results of the final group matches to find out if they would be among the best group runners-up. .

To secure City’s qualification, Vissel Kobe had to beat Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC – and an 88th-minute goal that put the Japanese side ahead 2-1 seemed to be enough for the Hong Kong side. A-League begins to celebrate.

But minutes later in stoppage time, former Victory midfielder Raul Baena headed home from a corner to earn a 2-2 draw that ended up sending City out of the tournament.

The drama was not over. Amid an off-the-ball incident in the chaotic scenes after his goal at Buriram Stadium in Thailand, Spaniard Baena, who played for City on loan from Granada in 2018-19, was shown a red card.

This meant that the entire Australian challenge was over, with the original three representatives – Victory, City and Sydney FC – having now been knocked out.

It means there will be no men’s A-League side in the round of 16 in August, although that looks tough for Patrick Kisnorbo’s City, who have gone through their six group stage matches unbeaten .

As City learned of their disappointing fate, Sydney FC also ended their miserable 16-day campaign in Vietnam with another defeat that left them bottom of their group table with just two points.

Seeking their only victory in six matches, Steve Corica’s side went down 1-0 again as Brazil’s Washington Brandao scored a first-half winner for Vietnamese side Hoang Anh Gia Lai.

Overall, clubs from the usual continental powers of Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea again dominated the group stages.

The East Asian Round of 16 in August will see Daegu (Korea) face Jeonbuk (Korea), Pathum United (Thailand) against Kitchee (Hong Kong), Vissel Kobe (Japan) against Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan) and Johor Darul Ta’zim (Malaysia) takes on Urawa (Japan).

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