Victory on verge of ACL last 16 with draw

Did this cross the line?0:42

ACL: Should Suwon have been awarded a goal for this?

Kosta Barbarouses (L).

Matt WindleyHerald Sun

MELBOURNE Victory is on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League for the first time after securing a backs-to-the-wall draw in South Korea last night.

Victory’s 1-1 result against Suwon Bluewings coupled with Shanghai SIPG’s 2-0 win away to Gamba Osaka means, at a minimum, an AAMI Park win against Gamba in the final group game on May 3 would send Kevin Muscat’s side in to the Round of 16.

Besart Berisha (L).

Besart Berisha (L).Source:Getty Images

The Bluewings dominated the first 45 minutes at the Suwon World Cup Stadium.

And although Victory got more in to the contest after half time, the hosts took a deserved lead via Kwon Chang-hoon in the 58th minute.

But no sooner than the two-time Asian champion had taken the lead was Victory back level after Kosta Barbarouses scored in the 60th minute.

Kosta Barbarouses (L).

Kosta Barbarouses (L).Source:Getty Images

That’s the way it stayed, but Victory had Lawrence Thomas to thank for helping it secure the vital point after the goalkeeper pulled off several spectacular saves.

Victory is undefeated in its four Champions League matches.

With two games left, SIPG is on nine points, Victory six, the Bluewings three and Gamba two.

If Victory and Suwon were to finish level on points Victory would advance ahead of the Korean side due to a tiebreak method that favours head-to-head results over goal difference.

Victory next travels to Shanghai on April 19 in the midst of the A-League finals.

Kwon Chang-Hoon (R) shoots the ball under Lawrence Thomas.

Kwon Chang-Hoon (R) shoots the ball under Lawrence Thomas.Source:AFP

“We wanted to achieve a win today, but it’s always very difficult away from home,” Victory captain Leigh Broxham said.

“They put a lot of pressure on us, they were the home team, and we had to scrap.

“They’re a very good team so we’ll take a 1-1 draw definitely.”

Suwon dominated the shot count 22-5, although Victory shaded possession 52 to 48 per cent.

Broxham cleared a Chang-hoon shot off the line in the 19th minute before the Korean young gun sent an acrobatic effort just over the bar eight minutes later.

Daniel Georgievski (R) fights for the ball with Kwon Chang-Hoon (L).

Daniel Georgievski (R) fights for the ball with Kwon Chang-Hoon (L).Source:AFP

Suwon thought it had a goal in the 35th minute via a Lee Sang-ho header, but replays suggested the referee was correct in ruling Thomas had made a massive goal line save.

Chang-hoon, 21, terrorised Victory all night and his opener came after he was played through by Yeom Ki-hun.

But after defender Matthieu Delpierre pushed forward from the ensuing restart and played a neat one-two with Archie Thompson, the Frenchman found Barbarouses on the right and the New Zealand international scored with a powerful low drive.

Two more fingertip saves in the 84th and 90th minutes from Thomas preserved the point.

In Osaka, second half goals from Wu Lei and Lu Wenjun kept Shanghai SIPG on top of the group.

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