Melbourne City held by Japanese second division outfit Ventforet Kofu in AFC Champions League

Melbourne City held by Japanese second division outfit Ventforet Kofu in AFC Champions League
  • PublishedSeptember 21, 2023

Melbourne City’s AFC Champions League started on a flat note at AAMI Park on Wednesday night, with the powerful Australian club held to a 0-0 draw by Japanese second-tier outfit Ventforet Kofu.

Kofu, who qualified for the competition by winning Japan’s Emperor’s Cup last season, proved more than a match for the A-League heavyweights, who were expected to win the Group H clash on home soil.

However, it was perhaps unsurprising that Kofu looked the sharper and the better organised of the two teams given the Japanese season is nearing its completion, while Melbourne City’s A-League campaign does not start until next month.

City needed some fine saves by veteran goalkeeper Young, and the assistance of the woodwork, to ensure they grabbed a share of the points.\

Young was called into action after quarter of an hour when prevented the visitors from taking the lead.

Kofu striker Kohei Matsumoto got behind the City defence and seemed certain to score as he confronted Young in a one-on-one situation.

However, the 38-year-old custodian, who joined City in the off-season from cross-town rivals Western United, stood tall to deny Matsumoto.

Nine minutes later it was the turn of Kofu’s keeper, New Zealand international Michael Woud, to ensure the game remained scoreless when a parried a powerful shot from another of City’s off-season recruits, German midfielder Tolgay Arslan to safety.

It was a rare City first-half attacking foray, with Kofu unlucky not to lead at half-time, with the hosts also saved by frame of the goal twice in the opening stanza.

The second of those occasions came in the 38th minute when Kofu midfielder Kazuhiro Sato unleashed a sublime free-kick that Young could only stand and watch as it crashed into the crossbar.

However, Young again came to City’s rescue in the 58th minute with a fine save to prevent a goal-bound strike from midfielder Yoshiki Torikai finding the back of the net.

There were few chances in the final 30 minutes of the contest, with City having to settle for a draw ahead of Sunday’s Australia Cup semi-final against Sydney FC at the same venue.


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