Sanfrecce Hiroshima are marching on into the AFC Champions League Round of 16 in style after notching a fifth consecutive win on Wednesday by beating Melbourne Victory 3-1.
It took Sanfrecce – who were already through after Match Day 5 – just five minutes to open the scoring at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, when Hiroya Matsumoto flicked on a corner at the near post and Taishi Matsumoto reacted well to meet the bouncing ball and steer a header into the back of the net.
But Victory, who were looking to send departing coach Kevin Muscat and captain Carl Valeri off on a high, equalised in the 70th minute when Ola Toivonen lined up a freekick on the edge of the box and curled a fine strike past Takuto Hayashi.
Just three minutes later, however, the visitors reclaimed the lead with a lovely move as Tsukasa Morishima’s deft one-touch pass found Yusuke Minagawa, who proceeded to bend a sublime effort beyond Lawrence Thomas’ despairing dive.
And, with 15 minutes remaining, Sanfrecce wrapped up the win as Morishima got in on the act, receiving possession 30 yards from goal and unleashing an absolute rocket that had Thomas beaten all ends up.
The Round of 16 ties are (almost) set!
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MELBOURNE VICTORY: Lawrence Thomas, Storm Roux, Thomas Deng, Benjamin Carrigan, Leigh Broxham, Carl Valeri (Elvis Kamsoba 81’), Keisuke Honda, Raul Baena (James Troisi 65’), Terry Antonis, Kosta Barbarouses, Ola Toivonen.
SANFRECCE HIROSHIMA: Takuto Hayashi, Hiroya Matsumoto, Hayato Araki, Akira Ibayashi, Hiroki Mizumoto, Kohei Shimizu (Soya Takahashi 77’), Tsukasa Morishima (Kodai Dohi 82’), Taishi Matsumoto (Kyohei Yoshino 76’), Sho Inagaki, Gakuto Notsuda, Yusuke Minagawa.