Blunders consign Victory to ACL defeat at home
Catastrophic defensive errors have again derailed Melbourne Victory's Asian Champions League (ACL) campaign, losing 3-2 to Yokohama F. Marinos.
Ahead through a James Troisi penalty on seven minutes, first-half blunders from goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and Leigh Broxham cost Victory dearly.
A last minute goal to Shingo Hyodo sealed the win, before Jimmy Jeggo scored an injury-time consolation.
The loss is not terminal for Victory's chances of progression, though they sit three points behind second place with just two to play.
But coach Kevin Muscat must rue the lapses that gifted Yokohama the lead after a bright start.
At 1-0 up, a hopeful Yokohama long ball created chaos in Victory's defence, hitting Leigh Broxham on the back of the neck as he chased back.
With Thomas off his line, Sho Ito dinked the ball over into an unguarded net to equalise.
Ten minutes later, Thomas had no one else to blame after dropping a regulation cross which Kosuke Nakamachi blasted home.
Muscat said he wouldn't crucify Thomas for his flap, but he struggled to understand how his side could score four goals in two away games have no points to show for it.
"There's still all to play for, it's going to be hard from here but we're not going to give in," he said.
"But it's our fourth game we've gone in front through this campaign, there's always positives."
Chief among those positives were the performances from several young players on the pitch.
With one eye on the upcoming crunch A-League match with Newcastle, Muscat left Mark Milligan, Tom Rogic and Adama Traore in Melbourne.
With Kosta Barbarouses, Pablo Contreras and Gui Finkler unavailable as well, it left Victory with a young side and a big ask.
Half-time brought little salvation for Muscat's side, as Yokohama sought to extend their lead.
Veteran international Shunsuke Nakamura lit up the former World Cup final venue with a series of dribbles that threatened to do further damage to the score.
Victory were without the same sort of creativity - saving Jeggo's neat ball to release Jason Geria and earn their penalty.
Hyodo's 90th minute breakaway goal was followed by Jeggo's injury-time finish to complete a tough night for Victory.