Melbourne Victory were knocked out of the Asian League thanks to Jeonbuk Motors.
Brazilian forward Leonardo dished out another piece of Asian Champions heartache for Melbourne Victory and put Jeonbuk Motors into Asia’s last eight. The A-League club tumbled out of Asia on Tuesday in Jeonju, South Korea, losing 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate to the K-League giants.
It was not to be for Victory’s departing trio of Archie Thompson, Kosta Barbarouses and Matthieu Delpierre, who will now leave the club. Victory were stretched and ultimately dissembled by Jeonbuk, who boast a formidable record in the elite continental competition.
Just as he did in Melbourne, Leonardo proved lethal, scoring twice to decide the tie. Besart Berisha’s late volley from substitute Jai Ingham’s cross gave Victory seven minutes to find a second, which would have put Victory ahead on away goals, but the hosts held on. The loss came in the same city where their 2014 Asian campaign ended in the group stages.
In this tie, Leonardo’s class made the difference. After equalising last week with an unstoppable free-kick, the Brazilian put Jeonbuk ahead from another set piece. Jason Geria’s foul after 29 minutes gave Leonardo the chance to strike from an acute angle and he made no mistake, bending the ball around the wall and with just venom that Lawrence Thomas’ weak glove could not stop it. The goal put Victory on the back foot but Jeonbuk looked more likely to add to their tally and so it proved after 71 minutes. Substitute Ricardo Lopes produced a fine cutback for his compatriot, the highest paid player in Korea, scoring a second.
Muscat said he was “bitterly disappointed” to crash out, ruing early chances not taken by Thompson. He said:
“We had our opportunities early on … two good chances at 0-0 which would have made the game fairly different.
“To go behind to another free kick made life hard for us.
“In Melbourne we should have won that game and we made this game very difficult but I’m extremely proud of the group to get as far as we have.”