Victory share spoils in Gwangyang

Melbourne Victory played out a 1-1 draw in its AFC Champions League 2008 clash against Korea Republic’s Chunnam Dragons at Gwangyang Football Stadium this evening, with attacking midfielder Tom Pondeljak scoring his first goal for the club in his second appearance.

Melbourne Victory played out a 1-1 draw in its AFC Champions League 2008 clash against Korea Republic-s Chunnam Dragons at Gwangyang Football Stadium this evening, with attacking midfielder Tom Pondeljak scoring his first goal for the club in his second appearance.

Pondeljak was promoted to Victory-s starting 11 following his debut against Japan-s Gamba Osaka two weeks ago and proved his worth on four minutes with a cracking shot from outside the penalty area that gave the visitor-s a perfect start.

Despite controlling much of the Match Day 5 contest, Victory unluckily surrendered its advantage on 38 minutes as Chunnam forward Ko Kigu launched a stray cross from the left flank that sailed over Victory goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos and rebounded into the net off the far post.

Theoklitos was called on throughout the match and denied the home side on several occasions, while at the other end Victory debutant Nathan Elasi and Danny Allsopp troubled Chunnam goalkeeper Cho Min Hyuck a number times without reclaiming the lead.

Elasi was lively up front, displaying strength and poise beyond his years before being replaced in the second half by Carlos Hernandez, who was immediately dangerous with each touch in his return from injury.

Both teams went in a search of a late winner with Chunnam substitute Lee Sang Yong firing wide from close range, before Allsopp connected with a header that agonisingly flew over the crossbar in the last minute.

Victory Coach Ernie Merrick praised the side-s effort, in particular that of Elasi and Pondeljak, as well as youngster Evan Berger, who made his first AFC Champions League 2008 appearance off the bench.

“It was a good performance, particularly in the second half,” Merrick said.

“There was good possession play, good attacking play and solid defensive play, but not enough goals.

“They were knocking in crosses from everywhere and we dealt with them pretty well, but in the end, we conceded a goal from a very unusual position.

“For someone to score from the wing with a cross like that just summed up our AFC Champions League campaign - unusual goals that we-ve conceded.

“You can-t fault the boys on effort, they just gave 100 per cent and on another day we would-ve got a good win.”

Victory will return to Melbourne for its final AFC Champions League 2008 fixture against Thailand-s Chonburi FC at Telstra Dome on Wednesday, 21 May.

Tickets for the match, as well as Victory-s blockbuster friendly against Italian giant Juventus FC at Telstra Dome on Friday, 30 May, are available from any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 136 100 or through ticketmaster.com.au.

Chunnam Dragons 1 (Ko Kigu 38-)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Tom Pondeljak 4-)
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Gwangyang Football Stadium, Gwangyang
Referee: Abdullah Dor Mohammad Balideh
Crowd: 3000

Chunnam Dragons: 2.KIM Jinhyun (14.BAEK Seungmin 63-), 3.PARK Jiyong, 6.Jasenko SABITOVIC, 12.LEE Sangil, 16.LIM Kwan Sik (Captain), 18.Victor Simoes DE OLIVEIRA (27.LEE Sang Yong 76-), 19.JU Kwangyoun, 20.KO Kigu, 24.CHO Min Hyuck (gk), 25.LEE Hyuro, 30.YOO Hongyoul (23.YU Jino 68-)

Substitutes not used: 13.LEE Yunpyo, 21.YEOM Donggyun (gk), 28.CHO Beomseok, 29.CHANG Donghyok
Yellow cards: Park Jiyong 60-

Melbourne Victory: 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 6.Steve PANTELDIS, 7.Matthew KEMP, 9.Daniel ALLSOPP, 11.Nathan ELASI (16.Carlos HERNANDEZ 69-), 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 21.Sebastian RYALL (19.Evan BERGER 87-), 22.Nick WARD, 24.Billy CELESKI, 25.Tom PONDELJAK (14.Adrian CACERES 74-)

Substitutes not used: 4.Steven PACE, 13.Kaz PATAFTA, 15.Leandro LOVE, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk)
Yellow cards: Nick Ward 31-, Sebastian Ryall 71-, Kevin Muscat 88-