Melbourne Victory have registered their first point of the 2019 AFC Champions League after a brave 1-1 draw with Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday night.
Both goals came within a couple of minutes of each other in the first half, with Victory’s Jai Ingham cancelling out Huang Bowen’s opener for the visitors.
While the draw wasn’t enough to help Victory’s chances of progressing out of the group stage, it was an emphatic response to the 4-0 defeat to the same opponents just a fortnight ago.
The result is even more impressive considering Victory boss Kevin Muscat decided to leave out star imports Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen.
Bowen looked to have Guangzhou on course for another win when he struck on 24 minutes, turning in Paulinho’s cutback after Victory turned over possession deep in their own half.
But the home side responded almost immediately.
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Terry Antonis – probably Victory’s best player on the night – attempted an incisive through-ball which was deflected into Ingham’s path, with the Kiwi international slamming it home from just inside the box.
It was end-to-end stuff after the break, with Antonis inches away from a winner with a rasping drive from distance, while Paulinho missed a great chance for Guangzhou with a late header.
Victory thought they should have had a penalty in the final minute when Kenny Athiu went down under a strong challenge in the box but the referee waved away their appeals to ensure it ended all square.