Ex-Victory man knocks City out of Asian CL

·2-min read

Melbourne City have crashed out of the Asian Champions League - thanks to a late, late goal from a man who used to play for their cross-city rivals Victory.

The Australian champions were on the verge of celebrating their passage to the knockout rounds for the first time on Sunday night as they anxiously awaited the results of the final group matches to learn if they'd make it as one of the best group runners-up.

To ensure City's qualification, Vissel Kobe had to beat Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC - and an 88th minute goal that put the Japanese side 2-1 up looked to be enough for the A-League side to start celebrating.

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 wasn't over. Amid an off-the-ball incident in the chaotic scenes following his goal in Thailand's Buriram Stadium, the Spaniard Baena, who had played for City on loan from Granada in 2018-19, got a red card.

It meant the entire Australian challenge was over with all three original representatives - Victory, City and Sydney FC - now having been eliminated.

It means there'll be no A-League Men's team in the last-16 in August, even if it seems hard on Patrick Kisnorbo's City, who went through their six group stage matches unbeaten.

At the same time as City were learning their disappointing fate, Sydney FC were also finishing their wretched 16-day campaign in Vietnam with another defeat that left them bottom of their group table on just two points.

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

Overall, clubs from the usual continental powerhouses of Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea ended up dominating the group stages once again.

The East Asia round-of-16 ties in August will see Daegu (Korea) take on Jeonbuk (Korea), Pathum United (Thailand) against Kitchee (Hong Kong), Vissel Kobe (Japan) versus Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan) and Johor Darul Ta'zim (Malaysia) face Urawa (Japan).

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting