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Victory advance to Champions League group stage

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Melbourne Victory have claimed their place in the 2014 Asian Champions League Group Stages following a 2-1 victory over Thailand’s Muangthong United in Geelong on Saturday night.

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It was a late come from behind win for Melbourne Victory in the Asian Champions League playoff, but their success makes it the first time Australia have three teams in the group stages as they join the Champions, Central Coast Mariners, and premiers, Western Sydney Wanderers.

It was clear what Muangthong’s plan was, sit back and absorb the pressure, while hoping to snag a goal on the counter as they set up defensively from the get go.

Tom Rogic should have given Victory the lead just eight minutes in when he was found with a cross but headed his effort wide of goal.

Muangthong were looking dangerous on the counter-attack throughout the night and went for it early nearly catching Victory out with an impressive counter in the opening 15 minutes.

With an opposition playing on the counter, Victory dominated proceedings, but as is so often the case with teams playing on the counter, the Muangthong keeper had a sublime night in goal.

In the 22nd minute that goalkeeping paid off as Mario Durovski hit a corner that evaded everyone, including Victory keeper Nathan Coe, and found the back of the net, giving the visitors a shock lead.

Victory had a golden opportunity at the stroke of half-time when Piyaphon Buntao clattered in to Archie Thompson for a penalty, but that’s when the comedy started.

Buntao was shown a yellow and red card after the referee mistakenly thought it was his second yellow, before quickly realizing his error, but that wasn’t all, as Mark Milligan hit the penalty poorly, and seeing his effort saved, allowing Muangthong to take a 1-0 lead in to the break.

Just after the half-time break Muangthong nearly had their second as Teerasil Dangda was able to get through one-on-one but couldn’t beat Coe.

Muangthong were made to pay for that missed chance in the 58th minute as James Troisi made a perfect run, getting on the end of Sam Galloway’s cross and heading it home.

That saw the visitors bunker down even more to try and send the match to extra time, which seemed to be successful.

But with seven minutes to play the Australians came through when Leigh Broxham hitting a powerful shot after a clearance fell to him, the shot took a deflection, leaving the keeper stranded and putting Melbourne Victory in front.

Any hope of a Muangthong come back ended when Datsakorn Thongloao was shown a straight red card for head-butt on Broxham as the match headed to stoppage time, handing Victory a 2-1 win and passage to the group stage.

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