Kevin Muscat has been left glowing of his team’s efforts to find a decisive goal in the crucial Asian Champions League clash against Kawasaki Frontale on Tuesday night.
In an entertaining affair at AAMI Park, Victory eventually broke the deadlock in the 90th minute through Kosta Barbarouses, earning an important 1-0 win.
Even on the stats sheet, Victory enjoyed a promising second 45 but could not break down the J-League champions until the Kiwi bobbed up.
But three points mean Victory are still alive heading into matchday five of the continental championship and have plenty to play for.
They will visit South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai who suffered a 1-0 home loss against group leaders Shanghai SIPG, a result Victory would have been hoping for.
Had the score have remained at 0-0, progression would have looked a difficult proposition, but Muscat was delighted his players continued to push for the game-changing winner.
“We had a couple of headers that went just wide … at that point in time, the playing group have got a decision to make because I’m not out there,” he said.
“The ones that were out there, do we think ‘it’s not our night?’ or do we go again? The evidence was in the performance in that last 25 minutes.
“We went again and we went again and went again.”
With Victory and Ulsan now level on points, the victor of their meeting is guaranteed passage to the Round of 16 as head to head comes into play before goal difference.
Muscat described the win over Kawasaki, who for their part look certain to be eliminated at the first hurdle, as a “massive scalp”.
“With the squad they’ve got and the resources they’ve got, they don’t lose much in terms of quality (when making changes),” he added.
“That’s why I think it’s a massive scalp, a massive scalp for the football club, a massive scalp for Australian football and it’s a proud night for us.
“To take four points off them over two games, and we’re still in the competition … we go into the next game with something to play for.”
Goalscorer and man of the match Barbarouses said the winning feeling was “amazing”.
“The last 10, 15, 20 minutes, I’m sure all the other boys think the same, desperate to get a goal and the feeling and the urgency, what an amazing feeling it would be to get that goal and what it would mean to the club,” he said.
“It’s an amazing feeling and a reward for the team’s performance on the night.
“There were some amazing performances from everyone and I think everyone in the club should be proud of that.
“They’re a great side and to do that and put on that performance after the game settled down I think is fantastic for the boys.”
Victory will now turn attentions back to the A-League with a meeting with Central Coast Mariners scheduled for Sunday afternoon in potentially hot conditions.