A week on from their 3-1 loss at home to South Korean side Daegu FC, Melbourne Victory came up against a formidable opponent in the form of 2018 J1 League runners up Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Victory were suffocated in the early stages by Sanfrecce’s intense pressing. In spite of controlling the game in the first half, Victory failed to register a shot on target. Sanfrecce opted to retreat and hold their own defensively in the second period, ultimately coming away 2-1 winners in a second half where the Victory could have capitalised on some glorious chances if not for poor use of the ball.

Hiroshima’s strength in adaptability was on full display against the Victory, with the side opting to sit back in defence and remain compact to combat the flurry of Navy Blue attacks in the second half.

Besart Berisha, on the books at Sanfrecce, was unsighted even on the bench against his former club, continuing a strange period in Japan for the A-League’s greatest scorer of goals ever.

Additionally, Japanese football’s exceptional youth development was on full display as Sanfrecce’s starting eleven were filled with youngsters, including 18-year-old goalscorer Shunki Higashi.

Melbourne Victory Ratings

Lawrence Thomas — 7

One would be ill advised to criticise Thomas for either of Sanfrecce’s goals as it was the Victory #1 who often kept his side in the game. Made a smart stop from an unexpected Higashi long range effort and stood up strongly to push a dipping Tsukasa Morishima shot over the bar. Again kept Victory in the match as he saved one on one with Patric.

Storm Roux — 7

Some lovely interchanges on his flank to get in to the Hiroshima box ended ultimately in some poor crosses. Reminded A-League fans of his clear connection with Honda as he got on the end of a brilliant Lesiotis through ball to cross to the patient Japanese maestro, who finished well.

James Donachie — 5

Poor turnovers and uncertainty on the ball pervaded his 90 minutes.