Tough opening for Victory

Melbourne Victory's 2011 AFC Champions League campaign got off to a difficult start on Tuesday as they slumped to a 5-1 away loss at Gamba Osaka.

Melbourne Victory's 2011 AFC Champions League campaign got off to a difficult start on Tuesday as they slumped to a 5-1 away loss at Gamba Osaka.

The Victory found themselves 3-0 down after just 11 minutes through goals from Takuya Takei, Adriano and Lee Keun-Ho, and although Kevin Muscat pulled one back from the penalty spot, Takahiro Futagawa and substitute Kim Seung-Yong completed a comprehensive performance with goals in the second half.

Ernie Merrick opted to start with three men up front, and the visitors carved out the first chance of the game when Muscat picked out Archie Thompson in the box with a quick free-kick, but the striker's header was straight at Gamba goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya.

Victory were soon on the back foot, however, as a Yasuhito Endo corner broke for Takei and the midfielder lashed a crisp first-time shot past Michael Petkovic to hand Gamba the lead.

The hosts made it 2-0 in the blink of an eye, when Muscat brought down South Korean winger Lee inside the box and Adriano stepped up to coolly slot home the penalty.

Just when it seemed things could not get any worse for Merrick's men, Endo picked out Adriano with a sublime pass on the right hand side. The Brazilian found Lee with a quick cross and the winger poked the ball past Petkovic to make it 3-0 . Merrick had to make some adjustments, and after quarter of an hour he replaced Diogo Ferreira with midfielder Billy Celeski.

The move made an immediate impact as Victory settled down and managed to stem the bleeding defensively. Marvin Angulo hit a crisp volley straight at Fujigaya after 13 minutes, and seven minutes later Victory were awarded a penalty when a rampaging Thompson was brought down in the box by Takumi Shimohira.

Muscat converted to pull a goal back, but Gamba could have made it 4-1 moments later when Lee made a great run down the right before his cross was nodded down by Takashi Usama into the path of Adriano and Petkovic made a fine stop.

Danny Allsopp grazed the post with a fine effort on 35 minutes after some nice build-up play from Thompson, and when Rody Vargas' looping header past Fujigaya was disallowed for offside the score remained at 3-1 at the interval.

Adriano could have had his second a minute into the second half when he was picked out by an excellent ball from Lee, but Petkovic dived well to his left to make the save.

The Brazilian turned architect after just after the hour mark, when he skipped past Vargas with ease before cutting the ball back to Takahiro Futagawa, who blasted a shot into the top corner from close range to make it 4-1.

Gamba continued to create chances down the stretch, and when Lee picked out his compatriot Kim in injury time with a perfect cross, the subsititute powered a header home to complete a miserable night for Victory.

Victory will have to regroup before their next match, against K-League runners-up Jeju United on Tuesday March 15 at Docklands.

Gamba Osaka 5 (Takei 4, Adriano 7p, Lee 11, Futagawa 63, Kim 90+) Melbourne Victory 1 (Muscat 22p) At Expo 70 Stadium, Osaka