Welcome to Victory In Melbourne’s minute by minute analysis of Melbourne Victory’s first clash of their 2010 Asian Champions League campaign against Beijing Guoan at the Beijing Workers Stadium, Beijing. All the action kickoffs at 10:30pm AEST and we will be keeping you up-to-date as to when Joel Griffiths cops his first kick or whether the orange ball will be needed because it’s snowing and everything in between. Whilst you are waiting for it all to happen you might as well check out what we know about Beijing Guoan here.
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0 mins: And we have kick-off. Melbourne starting with an unchanged line-up from Thursday wins against Sydney. As for Beijing, only one Griffiths gets a start with Ryan on the bench.
Melbourne starting XI: Langerak (gk), Muscat (c), Sukha, Broxham, Brebner, Vargas, Pondeljak, Hernandez, Ward, Leijer and Mrdja.
Beijing starting XI: Hao Wu, Ting Zhou, Darko Matic, Liang Xu, Valdo, Xiangchuang Yan, Xy Yunlong (c), Yang Zhi (gk), Yifan Zhu, Joel Griffiths and Maurice Ross
4 mins: Have to say I don’t mind the Victory away strip. Can’t say the same thing for the Beijing strip as those numbers are really hard to read.
9 mins: Pretty cagey start so far. Neither team really having any clear cut chances. Only stat that is getting a workout at the moment is the foul count with neither keeper having work to do apart form the odd goal kick. Valdo and Hernandez getting a bit of heavy treatment from their respective opponents.
12 mins: First foul on Joel Griffiths goes to Sukha. Griffiths at his whinging best asks for a yellow card but the referee is not forthcoming.
Play has stopped for the moment as the referee has appeared copped a laser in the eye from the home supporters and his having a bit of trouble with his eyesight.
18 mins: Some nervous moments in the penalty area as Vargas has some issues with Valdo after Muscat failed to clear a cross. Muscat recovers to restrict any further danger.
24 mins: Melbourne finally get their first corner of the match. Picks out an unmarked Muscat who sidefoots wide of the mark and that brings up Melbourne’s first attempt on goal. Melbourne playing too many long balls at the moment for my liking. We need to get Hernandez, Pondeljak, Ward and Co. into the play more.
27 mins: Pondeljak forces a great save out Yang Zhi from about 30 yards. The resulting corner comes to nothing. Melbourne’s first shot on target. They way Pondeljak shots reminds me of the way I shoot in futsal, all about placement and not so much about power. His last shot being the exception.
30 mins: Hernandez shakes off three defenders to get a shot off. Unfortunately, for the Victory his shot went wide.
Hernandez show his disgust at his effort on goal.
32 mins: Yellow card for Sukha for tug of Xiangchuang Yan’s shirt.
35 mins: Beijing effort cleared off the line by Sukha. At first glance it looked it was behind the line but replays confirmed that the clearance was okay. Victory also managed to block Ross’ follow up shot.
38 mins: Yifan Zhu puts a shot just wide of the mark with Langerak beaten. Just as I was saying Melbourne was getting back into the game Beijing have created a number of good chances. For Melbourne, Sukha is walking a fine line at the moment. Needs to relax a little by my reckoning as he is throwing himself into tackles, Leigh Broxham style.
41 mins: Langerak pulls off a brilliant save to deny Valdo after being set up by Joel Griffiths.
42 mins: Nik Mrdja fails to get a shot off as he is through on goal from a brilliant little chip from Nick Ward. Maurice Ross shepherds him off the ball nicely. I bet Ernie Merrick is hoping that half time can’t come quickly enough as Beijing are starting to dominate at the moment. That pesky Joel Griffiths being particularly dangerous.
45 mins + 3: And there goes Albadwawi Madhad Saif’s whistle for half time. After a slow start from both team, Beijing has looked pretty dangerous in the last fifteen minutes or so of the half with the combination of Griffiths and Valdo. being particular dangerous. Melbourne needs to impose its midfield more on the game as at the moment they aren’t seeing much of the ball at the moment.
46 mins: Surat Sukha makes way for Evan Berger at the start of the second half.
49 mins: Brenton Speed makes a very bad pun using one of the Beijing player’s name.
50 mins: Valdo gets the better of Rodrigo Vargas with his shot hitting the side netting after appearing to come off the leg of Muscat. Home fans get a little excited thinking they had opened the scoring. Melbourne get the goal kick though.
52 mins: Joe Griffiths opens the scoring for Beijing as he beats Langerak from close range. Griffiths continues his love affair of scoring against Melbourne. 1-0 to Beijing. Looks like he got a little help from a Vargas deflection.
54 mins: Langerak makes another great save to deny a long range Beijing free kick. The home side well on top at the moment.
58 mins: Looks like Matthew Foschini is going to get a run. Wonder who he is going to replace. Wouldn’t mind seeing Angulo getting a run.
60 mins: Foschini replaces Berger. Must have picked up some injury in an earlier challenge. Can’t see any other reason for his subsitution.
64 mins: Pondeljak blazes well over the bar from inside the penalty area after some excellent build up play from the Victory. They need to be careful to be caught on the break as they look for the equaliser.
65 mins: Muscat’s power of influence extends to Asian referees as gets Valdo booked for a rather soft foul. Referee also gives Huang Bowen a yellow for what appears to be a wardrobe malfunction.
68 mins: Langerak out quickly to deny Griffiths as Beijing again looking dangerous. Valdo definitely proving to be a handful for the Melbourne defence as he holding up the ball well.
74 mins: Pondeljak looking the most dangerous of the Melbourne midfielders as he somehow gets a corner. The resulting corner comes to nothing as Muscat header at the back post is cleared easily.
76mins: Both Liang Xu and Leijer go down in a fifty-fifty clash where both players missed the ball completely. Liang Xu had both studs up as he flew in for the tackle although to be fair Leijer’s effort wasn’t much better. Both players get up with the pitch appearing to come off the worse for wear as both players took a couple of divots.
79 mins: Melbourne Victory having a lot more of the possession at the moment as they press for an equaliser. Not creating many clear cut chances though. Are they leaving their run a little too late. Now would be an opportune to give Angulo a run.
82 mins: I get my wish as Broxham makes way for our second Costa Rican.
85 mins: Muscat puts a heavy challenge in on Joel Griffiths just for old times sake as Melbourne have an extended period of attacking. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to anything.
87 mins: Hernandez scuffs a shot inside the penalty area. Is Merrick’s pre-game prediction of fast finish about to come true? Not long after Mrdja gets on in the end of a near post header but it goes well wide.
89 mins: Melbourne spurn a brilliant chance to equalise after some brilliant interplay between Pondeljak and Ward. Unfortunately, Pondeljak’s cross failed to find a Melbourne body around the penalty spot. Best chance of the game so far which is saying something when it happens in the 89th minute.
90 +3 mins: The referee blows the whistle for full time with Melbourne’s second Asian Champions League campaign not getting off to the most auspicious of starts as they go down 1-0 to Chinese champions Beijing Guoan. Again it proved to be the Victory’s nemises, Joel Griffiths, who was the difference with a well taken goal. Melbourne will need to bounce back in the next match against Seongnam Ilhwa at Etihad Stadium in a couple of weeks to ensure any chance of progression from this group after this early setback.