Victory confidence growing after draw in Japan

Nick Ansell reckons Melbourne Victory are on track to get out of the AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage for the first time after Wednesday’s draw against Gamba Osaka.

The Victory centre-back helped the visitors into an early lead in Japan, with his header from Kosta Barbarouses corner forcing an own goal from Gamba’s Shu Kurata in the third minute.

Victory pick up valuable ACL point in Japan

While the home side claimed a 1-1 draw thanks to a second-half header from captain Yasuhito Endo, Ansell was pleased with Victory’s performance, which kept the A-League champions top of Group G in the ACL.

Victory started their ACL campaign with a 2-1 win over Shanghai SIPG last week.

Melbourne Victory players celebrate opening the scoring against Gamba Osaka in Japan.

“We’ve put ourselves in a great situation, so we need to win our home games and come away do the best that we can [on the road] like we did today,” Ansell said. 

“We should be looking good towards the end of the group stage.”

In four previous ACL appearances, Victory have never progressed to the knockout stages.

Kevin Muscat’s men had Danny Vukovic to thank for their draw in Osaka, with the goalkeeper making three top-notch saves in the second half.

But Ansell argued Victory deserved a point.

Nick Ansell

“I think we had a good game,” he said.

“To get on the scoreboard early was definitely a bonus, and therefore we could relax and really play our game. I think first half we really had a good game.”

Victory’s next ACL match will be at home against Suwon Bluewings on March 15.