Victory grind out ACL win over Chiangrai

Anna Harrington
1 / 2

SOCCER AFC VICTORY CHIANGRAI UNITED

Ola Toivonen's penalty sealed Melbourne Victory's AFC Champions League win over Chiangrai United

Melbourne Victory have started their Asian Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win over Chiangrai United at AAMI Park.

Victory snatched the lead via an Ola Toivonen penalty in the 25th minute but largely delivered an uninspiring performance against the Thai outfit in front of 4,156 fans.

"We need the win of course," Victory coach Carlos Salvachua said post-match.

"I think we were a little bit scared, thinking that we can win the game and as well, scared, (thinking) that we can lose the game at the end.

"I think we were sometimes nervous with the ball and one of the big problems was we didn't finish the chances that we had in the first half and the second half. It would be a different game if we scored chances."

Salvachua handed recruit Giancarlo Gallifuoco his first start, though Marco Rojas started on the bench.

Victory looked lethargic and sloppy at times in the first half, with Chiangrai's pressure creating several good opportunities - though none seriously challenged goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.

Victory almost snatched the lead when Toivonen forced a superb diving save from Chiangrai keeper Apirak Worawong in the 22nd minute.

A minute later, Swede Toivonen was brought down by defender Tanasak Srisai, with referee Turki Mohammed Alkhudhayr immediately pointing to the spot.

Worawong dived the right way but couldn't stop Toivonen's powerful spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Socceroo Andrew Nabbout missed a chance to make it 2-0 in the 31st minute.

Elvis Kamsoba went on a terrific run down the right, then cut the ball back for Nabbout, who blasted his shot high and wide.

Nabbout spurned a golden opportunity in the 58th minute when he clattered a header from the top of the six-yard box into the crossbar.

Defender Storm Roux was taken off on a stretcher in the 61st minute, while a visibly frustrated Nabbout made way for Rojas in the 72nd.

Rojas created the best chance of the second half when he weaved past two defenders and slipped a clever ball beyond a third to Kamsoba - only for the winger to blaze it over the bar.

Chiangrai's Thirayu Banhan received a straight red card for a nasty challenge on Victory's Jay Barnett in the 89th minute.

Rojas and Toivonen combined late but the latter saw his last-ditch attempt saved, leaving the hosts to settle for a frustrating 1-0 victory - albeit their first ACL opening-night win since 2016.

"We could have made some goals from the counter attack," Chiangrai coach Sek-san Siripong said via a translator.

"I think for the first 15 minutes we were not in our game but after that we adapted (to) the game and we (had) to get some goals from the counter attack.

"And we think we'll do a lot better when we play at home against Melbourne Victory."