The 2023-24 AFC competitions entered their fifth matchday this week, and A-Leagues clubs were in the thick of the action on Wednesday night.
First up it was Central Coast Mariners in the AFC Cup, playing host to Terengganu FC at Industree Group Stadium. The Mariners could have wrapped up top spot in their group with a win but were forced to scrap for a point, with 17-year-old Miguel Di Pizio arriving off the bench to score a late equaliser with his first senior goal.
Then attention turned to Tokyo where Melbourne City faced Ventforet Kofu in the AFC Champions League. A Callum Talbot stunner set the tone for a chaotic game City led on two occasions, but ended 3-3.
Featured image credit: 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
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AFC CUP: Mariners 1-1 Terengganu
Central Coast Mariners teenager Miguel Di Pizio’s first goal in senior competitive football has rescued a point for the Isuzu UTE A-League champions, in a 1-1 draw with Terengganu FC in the AFC Cup.
The Mariners could have secured a spot in the AFC Cup knockouts with a win at Industree Group Stadium but failed to clinch three points on a frustrating night in Gosford; a goal against the run of play from Engku Nur Shakir put the Malaysian side ahead in the second half before Di Pizio’s 87th-minute equaliser which ensured points were shared.
The Mariners retain top spot in Group G, and will travel to the Philippines to take on Stallion Laguna FC on the final day of the group stage on Wednesday, December 13.
AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Ventforet Kofu 3-3 Melbourne City
A late equaliser scored by Ventforet Kofu substitute Jumma Miyazaki ensured the spoils were shared in a dramatic 3-3 draw with A-Leagues club Melbourne City in the AFC Champions League group stage on Wednesday night.
City led 3-2 late on thanks to a second-half comeback, but opened the door for J2 League outfit Ventforet to find a late reply in a six-goal thriller at Japan National Stadium in Tokyo.
Callum Talbot opened the scoring for City in the fifth minute before an instant reply from Shion Inoue, with Yoshiki Torikai finding the back of the net to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at half-time. City surged back into the lead through goals to Tolgay Arslan and Marin Jakolis before Miyazaki confirmed the spoils would be shared at 3-3.
The draw ensures Ventforet remain top of Group H, and opens the door for Thai club Buriram United to jump into top spot by the end of the evening as they face Chinese side Zhejiang in the late kick-off.