Victory a chance of advancing in ACL

April 1, 2010
By Guy Hand

Melbourne Victory have had the door to an unlikely Asian Champions League second stage berth opened slightly after Seongnam Ilhwa locked up top place in Group E on Thursday.

The Korean side upset second-placed Beijing Guoan 1-0 in China to remain unbeaten and plunge their Chinese rivals into a three-way fight to advance to the competition's next stage.

Melbourne's 1-0 win over Kawasaki Frontale at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night has lifted them equal with Kawasaki on points and within a win of Beijing Guoan.

But the Victory's poor goal difference means they will need a big win against Beijing Guoan in their clash in Melbourne on April 14 and other results to go their way to keep alive their hopes of advancing.

Victory coach Ernie Merrick said his players had never given up hope of qualifying for the second stage, even after losing their first three matches.

"Remember, of our three games, two were away and the one that was at home we had a short turnaround," Merrick said.

"The next game against Beijing's at home, and if we win that, we put a lot of pressure on whoever for second place. We've always believed there's a second spot open for us."

Goalkeeper Mitch Langerak was outstanding again for the Victory, making four pivotal saves to keep his side in the match, including a freakish late reflex stop to ensure all three points.

In Beijing, Colombian midfielder Mauricio Molina scored the only goal for Seongnam Ilhwa, whose fourth victory from as many matches ensures them a spot in the round of 16.

Australian defender Sasa Ognenovski was sent off late in the match for Seongnam for a second yellow card offence.

Ognenovski will now miss his club's clash with Kawasaki Frontale on April 14.