Melbourne Victory’s AFC Champions League campaign restarted with defeat in Qatar, losing 3-1 to Chinese Super League giant Beijing FC.
Gianluca Iannucci's debut goal in the second half was a highlight for Victory, as was new signing Jake Brimmer's performance in midfield.
Head Coach Grant Brebner handed starting debuts to Dylan Ryan, Callum McManaman, Ben Folami & Brimmer, as Victory hoped to build on its three points in Group E.
Beijing’s Renato Augusto opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, with an outstretched leg – beating Matthew Acton between the sticks.
Eleven minutes later, Beijing extended its lead. Augusto found space out wide, before finding Alan in the six-yard box.
The Brazilian striker registered his first AFC Champions League goal of the season from point-blank range.
Leigh Broxham had Victory’s closest chance of the first half, volleying an effort from the edge of the area. The Beijing goalkeeper dived to his left, as Broxham’s shot curled wide.
Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio and Aaron Anderson replaced Ryan and Folami during the break, as Brebner looked to freshen things up for the second half.
McManaman was substituted for Gianluca Iannucci in the 53rd minute, becoming Victory’s fifth Doha debutant.
Jay Barnett injected some energy into Victory’s performance, coming off the bench and immediately winning a free kick, before firing off a shot at the Beijing goal.
A neat one-two between Brimmer and Storm Roux provided space to find Ansell with a cross. The Beijing goalkeeper was beaten, but the defender’s header glanced off the outside of the post.
Despite Melbourne’s best efforts, Beijing found a third through substitute Ziming Wang with fifteen minutes to go.
Youngster Gianluca Iannucci pulled one back for Melbourne in the 78th minute.
Iannucci tried his luck from range and was aided by a deflection – a Champions League goal on his Victory debut.
Acton was called into action again late on, denying Beijing with a fourth by forcing a low shot wide of his goal.
AFC Champions League 2020 Group E
Beijing FC 3 (Renato Augusto 23’, Alan 34’, Wang 78’)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Iannucci 78’)
Beijing Guoan: Hou Sen (GK), Jin (Li Lei), Yu, Kim, Wang, Zhang (Chi), Yennaris, Fernando (Lu Peng), Viera (Yang 70’), Augusto, Alan (Wang 70’)
Melbourne Victory: Acton (GK), Traore, Ansell, Ryan (Anderson 45’), Roux, Broxham, Brimmer, Kirdar (Barnett 62’), McManaman (Iannucci 53’), Rojas (Kamsoba 77’), Folami (Lawrie-Lattanzio 45’)
Yellow cards: McManaman 28’, Yennaris 44’, Chi 90’
Venue: Jassim bin Hamad Stadium
Melbourne and Beijing meet again on Friday – Victory’s fourth Group E fixture and second game in Doha.
Brebner will be hoping to build on Victory’s previous three points and upset the group leaders.