Victory slay Dragons in style

Melbourne Victory has made an ideal start to its AFC Champions League 2008 campaign, claiming top spot in Group G with an imposing 2-0 win against Korean FA Cup winners the Chunnam Dragons at Telstra Dome this evening.

Melbourne Victory has made an ideal start to its AFC Champions League 2008 campaign, claiming top spot in Group G with an imposing 2-0 win against Korean FA Cup winners the Chunnam Dragons at Telstra Dome this evening.

Chonburi FC, which Victory faces next Wednesday in Bangkok, produced a surprising 1-1 draw against Japanese side Gamba Osaka in this evening-s other match, ensuring Victory sits two points clear of its opponents after Match Day 1.

It was an evening to remember for Victory in its historic first appearance in Asia-s premier club competition, with Kevin Muscat and Rodrigo Vargas scoring on either side of half time to the delight of the parochial Melbourne crowd.

Muscat netted Victory-s first AFC Champions League goal when he converted a penalty on 28 minutes, while Vargas headed a pinpoint Billy Celeski free kick on 66 minutes to double the home side-s advantage.

Victory dominated proceedings for the greater part of the match, with Archie Thompson causing problems for Chunnam-s defence and Michael Theoklitos making a number of crucial saves at the opposite end.

Theoklitos was called on early as Chunnam striker Victor Simoes found space in front of goal and fired a shot from close range, triggering a stunning save from the Victory custodian, whose impressive run of recent form continued.

Victory opened its AFC Champions League account when Matthew Kemp made a run down the left flank and was fouled inside the penalty area by Chunnam defender Jung Inhwan, giving referee Malik Abdul Bashir little choice but to point to the spot.

Muscat duly converted the spot kick with a direct shot that Chunnam goalkeeper Yeom Donggyun, who was one of his side-s better performers, had little chance of stopping.

Yeom produced a number of saves, most notably off the boot of Thompson and Danny Allsopp, to keep Chunnam in the contest until Vargas, who was unmarked in the penalty area, put the result beyond doubt from a precise set piece.

Buoyed by a strong debut performance in the AFC Champions League, Victory will now look to extend its lead on top of Group G when it travels to Bangkok to take on Chonburi at Supachalasai National Stadium next Wednesday, 19 March.

The match against Chonburi will be shown exclusively on Fox Sports 1 from 10pm AEDT.

Victory will then host what is expected to be a crucial fixture against Gamba at Telstra Dome on Wednesday, 9 April.

Tickets for the match against Gamba are available from any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 136 100 or through ticketmaster.com.au.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Kevin Muscat 28- pen, Rodrigo Vargas 66-) Chunnam Dragons 0 Wednesday, 12 March 2008 Telstra Dome, Melbourne Referee: Malik Abdul Bashir Crowd: 23,656

Melbourne Victory: 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 6.Steve PANTELIDIS, 7.Matthew KEMP, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14.Adrian CACERES (21.Sebastian RYALL 59-), 18.Leigh BROXHAM, 22.Nick WARD (13.Kaz PATAFTA 74-), 24.Billy CELESKI (17.Daniel VASILEVSKI 88-)

Substitutes not used: 3.Daniel PIORKOWSKI, 15.Leandro LOVE, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk) Yellow cards: Danny Allsopp 79-

Chunnam Dragons: 4.JUNG Inhwan (6.Jasenko SABITOVIC 66-), 8.KIM Taesu (Captain), 12.LEE Sangil, 16.LIM Kwan Sik, 17.LEE Junki, 18.Victor Simoes DE OLIVEIRA, 19.JU Kwangyoun, 21.YEOM Donggyun (gk), 22.KIM Seongjae, 25.LEE Hyuro (11.Sandro Hiroshi PARREAO OI 38-), 30.YOO Hongyoul (9.SONG Jung Hyun 66-)

Substitutes not used: 13.LEE Yunpyo, 24.CHO Min Hyuck (gk), 26.JEONG Junyeon, 27.LEE Sang Yong Yellow cards: Kim Seongjae 55-, Kim Taesu 72-, Ju Kwangyoun 90-