Victory draw with Beijing Guoan

Melbourne Victory's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League are over after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Chinese side Beijing Guoan at Docklands Stadium on Wednesday night.

Melbourne Victory's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League are over after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Chinese side Beijing Guoan at Docklands Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Victory, who had to win to keep their hopes of finishing in the top two alive after just one win in their first four matches, were outplayed for much of the night but almost pinched the win they so desperately needed late on.

The draw leaves Melbourne with just four points from five matches - three points behind second-placed Beijing but with its inferior head-to-head record against the Chinese team Melbourne can no longer finish ahead of Beijing.

Beijing is now locked in a battle with Japanese side Kawasaki Frontale to qualify for the knockout stages along with runaway group leaders Seongnam.

The Victory received a boost before the game when key pair Carlos Hernandez and Nick Ward were named fit to start the match after coach Ernie Merrick had all but ruled the pair out the day before due to illness.

But unfortunately while Melbourne enjoyed a better preparation for the match, the team looked flat from the outset after illness swept through the camp during the week.

The Victory had a full fortnight to prepare without any other distractions, unlike the early stages of the campaign which clashed with the culmination of the Hyundai A-League finals series.

As early as the first minute Matthew Foschini was forced to make a vital defensive clearance.

Former Newcastle Jets striker Joel Griffiths - who scored the winner for Beijing when it beat Melbourne 1-0 in China in the first match should have scored in the fourth minute when he got in behind the Victory defence only for Melbourne keeper Mitch Langerak to make a fine one-on-one save.

The Victory did not have a sight on goal until the 15th minute when Nik Mrdja could not get his foot to a promising cross from the right but just a minute later Bowen Huang should have given the visitors the lead after being played in by Griffiths.

Then just a minute later the visitors should have scored again but the impressive Langerak pulled off a great save from close range from Beijing's Brazilian striker Valdo.

The rest of the first half produced little action but such was Beijing's dominance that it enjoyed seven corners to one in the first half.

Melbourne looked better after half-time with Marvin Angulo replacing the ill Hernandez, who appeared lethargic throughout the match. He was still in bed sick as late as Tuesday.

Angulo immediately gave Melbourne the spark they had been lacking in the first half and with Beijing having wasted countless opportunities, the home side sensed the opportunity to score a late winner down the other end.

In the 71st minute Rody Vargas narrowly headed wide following a Leigh Broxham free-kick while Angulo nearly conjured the goal that Melbourne so desperately needed out of nothing in the 76th minute.

But his superb long-range shot was awkwardly palmed away by Beijing keeper Zhi Yang, who never looked comfortable all night.

But unfortunately Mrdja could not make the most of the rebound which he hit straight back to the keeper for a comfortable save as the Victory ran out of time to score the goal they needed to keep their campaign alive.

Melbourne Victory: 0

Beijing Guoan: 0

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