Soccer: Melbourne Victory held by Suwon in disappointing goalless draw

Two points dropped rather than one gained.

Melbourne Victory had a wonderful chance to build their case for an Asian Champions League knockout phase spot against a far from threatening Suwon Bluewings, but could not find a way through the Korean's defence at AAMI Park on Tuesday night.

Archie Thompson of the Victory and Cho Won Hee of Suwon battle for the ball.
Archie Thompson of the Victory and Cho Won Hee of Suwon battle for the ball. Photo: Getty Images

Thus Kevin Muscat's side had to settle for a point in a goalless draw that rarely rose to levels sufficient to set the pulses of the disappointingly low crowd, of just over 7000, racing. Victory now has five points and remains unbeaten after three games, but with trips to Shanghai and Seoul to come this could prove a costly failure.

Muscat went for experience as he swung the axe and made half a dozen changes to the starting 11 which crashed 5-0 in humiliating fashion in Brisbane at the weekend – the most surprising being the omission of former Socceroo midfielder Oliver Bozanic, one of the club's marquee players.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat shares his views.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat shares his views. Photo: Getty Images

In contrast, Suwon coach Seo Jung Won fielded what he had described as a team containing young and inexperienced players.

Jesse Makarounas was given a rare start in front of Victory's fans, while evergreen veteran Archie Thompson started up front: the hero of the first match win over Shanghai SIPG, flying winger Jai Ingham, was not even on the bench this time.


Suwon had vowed to adopt a positive approach, acknowledging that after a loss and a draw in their opening two fixtures they could not afford to leave Melbourne empty handed if they hoped to progress.

But it was Victory, keen to erase the nightmare of that weekend loss, that got quickly into their stride, with Matthieu Delpierre, the epitome of calm assurance at the back, guaranteeing that none of Suwon's early, rather sporadic, attempts caused any difficulties.

The visitors' defender Sin Se Gye almost gifted Victory an eighth-minute lead with a near disastrous back pass that had goalkeeper Non Dong-Geon scrambling to clear.

Kosta Barbarouses, suspended for the last A-League game, was fresh and looked lively as he drove at the Korean side at every opportunity, and the hosts went close in the 21st minute when, from his corner, defender Daniel Georgievski made contact at the near post, forcing Dong-Geong to save on the line.

Georgievski had been very lucky to escape a yellow card just before when his late challenge upended Jang Hyun Soo, leaving the midfielder bemused that no sanction had been made by Singaporean referee Muhamma Taqi, an official who subsequently left many on the ground and in the stadium confused by his decision making – or lack thereof – on numerous occasions throughout this game.

Still, Suwon was gradually able to work its way into the game and Yeom Ki Hun twice almost turned provider with good crosses from the left, once in the 27th minute, the second 10 minutes later. On the first occasion Kim Jong Min slid in to shoot over, the second time Kim Jong Woo could not convert.

At the other end, Barbarouses had Dong-Geon scurrying to tip a dipping cross out from under his bar.

Thompson thought he had given his team the lead in the 53rd minute when he headed home from Georgievski's flick from a Barbarouses corner, but the assistant referee's flag was quickly raised and the "goal" was ruled out for offside, which replays showed to be the case.

Muscat introduced Bozanic with nine minutes remaining in the hope the midfielder could provide a spark, but Victory could not find the inspiration needed.