Melbourne Victory is one win away from qualifying for the AFC Champions League knockout stages, following a 2-2 draw with Thailand’s Chiangrai United in Doha on Tuesday morning.
New signings Jake Brimmer and Ben Folami scored their first goals for the club, to set up a winner-takes-all scenario against FC Seoul on Thursday night (12am Friday).
Following a counter attack from a Chiangrai corner, Marco Rojas’ chipped effort led to Brimmer being brought down in the box – earning Melbourne a penalty in the eighth minute.
Brimmer calmly converted the resulting spot kick – sending the goalkeeper the wrong way to open his Victory account.
Melbourne continued to ask questions of United’s defence, often beating the offside trap.
Folami provided Rojas with a chance, but with his back to goal the New Zealander could not find the target.
Matthew Acton pulled off an impressive save moments later – diving at his near post to force a low shot onto the woodwork.
Folami consistently caused problems for Chiangrai and doubled Victory’s lead 27 minutes in.
The 21-year-old was on the receiving end of a perfect pass from Jacob Butterfield, which he cleverly lobbed over the oncoming goalkeeper with a one-touch finish.
During the break Birkan Kirdar replaced So Nishikawa, as Leigh Broxham moved into the left-back role.
Chiangrai’s Sivakorn Tiatrakul made it 2-1 shortly after half-time, finding the far corner of the Victory net with an intended cross.
Goalscorer and provider, Folami and Butterfield made way for Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio and Jay Barnett in the 58th minute.
Kirdar had a chance to seal three points for Victory, but his effort was smothered by the United goalkeeper.
With seven minutes remaining, Chiangrai found an equaliser through Gionata Verzura who finished from a low cross.
Neither side could find a winner, but a point keeps Victory’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive.
AFC Champions League 2020 Group E
Chiangrai United 2 (Tiatrakul 47’, Verzura 83’)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Brimmer 8’, Folami 27’)
Chiangrai United: Woravong (gk), Thinjom (Banham 45’), Singmui, Srisai, Leeaoh, Tiatrakul, Sukjitthammakul, Panya (Jaja), Sawasdee (Verzura 45’), Chamnarnsilp (Poomkeaw), Bill
Melbourne Victory: Acton (gk), Nishikawa (Kirdar 45’), Ansell, Ryan, Roux, Broxham, Butterfield (Barnett 58’), Brimmer, McManaman (Iannucci 71’), Rojas, Folami (Lawrie-Lattanzio 58’)
Yellow cards: Singmui 40’, Brimmer 43’, Acton 45’, Ryan 80’
Venue: Jassim bin Hamad Stadium
Victory’s final group stage match takes place on Thursday night (12am Friday morning) against FC Seoul.
The winner would progress to the next round of the competition, while a draw would be enough for the K League side.