Victory up against it in ACL

Melbourne Victory's hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League have been dealt a blow after defeat in its first home game of the campaign as an old foe came back to haunt the Victory.

Melbourne Victory's hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League have been dealt a blow after defeat in its first home game of the campaign as an old foe came back to haunt the Victory.

The reigning Hyundai A-League champions went down 2-0 to Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa and played like a tired side with this match coming just 48 hours after its memorable major semi-final second-leg triumph over arch rival Sydney FC.

The result leaves Melbourne - which now has a much-needed 11-day break before hosting this season's Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Sydney or Wellington on March 20 - bottom of its group with no points from two matches following its first-up loss in Beijing and needing to possibly win all four of its remaining matches to avoid early elimination.

And making the pain of Tuesday night's loss worse was that the first goal scored by the visitors came from former Melbourne-born Adelaide United defender Sasa Ognenovski.

The 30-year-old, who left Adelaide to join the K-League at the end of last season, scored in the 40th minute after Melbourne had conceded a free kick in a dangerous area following Nick Ward's tackle on Seongnam's Brazilian midfielder Fabricio.

Another of Seongnam's imported stars in Colombian midfielder Mauricio Molina took the free kick which Victory midfielder Leigh Broxham accidentally headed against the bar with the resultant rebound falling perfectly for Ognenovski, who calmly tucked the ball away in the far right-hand corner.

It was about the only highlight of a physical first half in which there was a shortage of goalmouth action as Melbourne made several changes to the team which drew 2-2 in Sydney on Sunday to ensure hosting rights for this year's Hyundai A-League Grand Final.

Skipper Kevin Muscat and fellow veteran Grant Brebner were both rested while Tom Pondeljak was out injured as stars Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez started on the bench.

As a result the home side struggled to create chances although it did force three successive corners in the 14th minute before Costa Rican Marvin Angulo volleyed straight at the keeper in the 24th minute after Robbie Kruse's initial shot had been blocked.

Kruse was then involved in an altercation with Seongnam defender Kim Sung Hwan in the 29th minute in which both players were lucky not to be booked before Seongnam keeper Jung Sung Ryong and defender Young Sun collided heavily in the 39th minute.

Melbourne's last chance in the first half was an Angulo free kick which went straight into the wall as coach Ernie Merrick was forced to bring on his big guns Hernandez and Thompson in the second half.

And Melbourne immediately looked more dangerous with Hernandez setting up a chance for Angulo in the 54th minute which went just wide.

Angulo again came close just a minute after Molina wasted a great chance in the 66th minute to wrap the game up for the visitors.

Melbourne then upped the pressure in the final stages with calls for a penalty on Kruse going unheeded in the 69th minute before Ward volleyed over in the 72nd following a great lay-off from Kruse.

But as Melbourne pushed forward in search of the equaliser, the visitors sealed their second win from two matches to remain top of the group after defender Young Sun headed home in the 85th minute.

Melbourne Victory: 0 Seongnam Ilhwa: 2 (Ognenovski 40, Young Sun 85) Crowd: 7899 at Docklands Stadium