2019 AFC Champions League, Group Stage
  • Ola Toivonen (70')
  • Taishi Matsumoto (5')
  • Yusuke Minagawa (73')
  • Tsukasa Morishima (75')

Kevin Muscat bows out of Melbourne Victory with loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Kevin Muscat's reign at Melbourne Victory is over, the club legend taking leave from his coaching tenure with a 3-1 loss to Sanfrecce Hirosima in the AFC Champions League.

On an eerie night at AAMI Park, the A-League powerhouses said farewell to Muscat, captain Carl Valeri and marquee Keisuke Honda.

There was plenty of love from the crowd of 6,053, which sang and cheered for their departing trio. But in keeping with Victory's unfortunate campaign in Asia, they were undone by two world-class goals.

For the fourth time in six ACL games, Victory were behind within 10 minutes. In the fifth minute, Hiroya Matsumoto flicked on Tsukasa Morishima's corner, allowing Taishi Matsumoto to steal past a sleeping Storm Roux and head home.

Victory enjoyed most of the possession from that point on, with Ola Toivonen missing a simple one-on-one chance to tie the scores. He didn't fail from a free kick on 70 minutes, bending a set piece around the wall and into the net to bring Victory level.

Five minutes later, Victory were two down. Yusuke Minagawa struck a curler after neat one-touch passing to beat Lawrence Thomas, and the goalkeeper was powerless shortly after to stop Morishima's bullet from 25 metres.

The result means Victory failed to win a match in their ACL campaign for the first time in eight attempts.

But the result never really mattered, with Sanfrecce already qualified for the next phase of the competition and Victory already out.

Instead, it was left to fans to salute their exiting stars, and ponder what might be next.

While Muscat fielded a near full-strength side, hoping they might atone for their humiliating 6-1 A-League semifinal loss to Perth, he gave Benjamin Carrigan, a 20-year-old centre-back, a home debut.

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