Melbourne Victory stunned Guangzhou Evergrande 2-0 on Tuesday to halt the titleholders’ progress to the Asian Champions League knockout rounds and leave all four teams in their group level on points with one game left.
Marcello Lippi’s side had beaten Victory 4-2 in their earlier meeting, but goals in the opening and closing minutes ensured a shock win in Melbourne and blew Group G wide open.
Elsewhere, Manabu Saito scored twice in two minutes as Yokohama F. Marinos upset former champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 to put all four contenders on seven points ahead of next week’s final group fixtures.
In Group H, Western Sydney Wanderers beat Ulsan Hyundai 2-0 to give a massive boost to their hopes of reaching the knockout stages on their debut in the Asian club competition.
In a dramatic night of action, Australian international Mark Milligan scored in the second minute and James Troisi struck in stoppage-time in Melbourne to pull off the biggest surprise of the tournament so far.
It was Victory’s best win in four Champions League campaigns and means they will reach the knockout round if they beat 2006 winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in South Korea next week.
Victory were ahead inside the opening 90 seconds, when Milligan won the ball in Guangzhou’s half and passed to Jesse Makarounas before continuing his run and finishing smartly.
The Australian side had several chances to extend their lead in the first half, but Guangzhou came alive after the break and goalkeeper Nathan Coe saved from both Muriqui and Feng Renliang in the game’s final quarter.
Another great save from Coe thwarted a swift Guangzhou counterattack, before substitute Andrew Nabbout and Kosta Barbarouses combined to set up Troisi’s goal in the first minute of stoppage-time.
Lippi’s expensive team came to Melbourne without their tournament topscorer Alessandro Diamanti, and they badly missed the injured Italian international’s goals and creativity.
The Chinese champions now head into their final group game, at home to Yokohama on Tuesday next week, knowing they need a win to make sure of keeping their title defense alive.
In Ulsan, Western Sydney kept the shocks rolling as second-half goals from Mark Bridge and Brendon Santalab downed the 2012 champions, and put the Australian side provisionally top of Group H.
In West Asia, Iran’s Foolad Sepahan handed 2011 champions Al Sadd a 4-0 thrashing in Group D — the Qataris having suffered a 5-0 rout by Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal earlier this month.
After a goalless first half the Iranians hit a purple patch, with Mehdi Sharifi scoring twice early on resumption and substitute Xhevahir Sukaj adding a third. An own-goal by Al Sadd defender Ibrahim Majed in stoppage-time sealed an emphatic win for Sepahan and kept their hopes alive of a spot in the last 16.
Qatar Stars league champions Lekhwiya crashed out after a humiliating 5-0 defeat at home to inaugural AFC champions Al Ain of the UAE in Group C.
Al Ain, who became the first team to qualify for the knockout stages, were served well by Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan, who scored twice late in the match after setting up goals for Ibrahim Diaky, Alex Brosque and Mohamed Abdulrahman earlier.
Saudi side Al Ittihad also made it to the last 16, goals on either side of the break by Abdulfattah Asiri and Mukhtar Fallatah giving them a 2-0 win over Tractorsazi of Iran.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but