Former Melbourne Victory defender Rodrigo Vargas has hailed the club’s stunning win over Guangzhou Evergrande as their greatest in the competition.
Former Melbourne Victory defender Rodrigo Vargas has hailed the club’s stunning win over Guangzhou Evergrande as their greatest in the competition and believes an Australian side is now ready to win the AFC Asian Champions League.
On a huge night for Hyundai A-League clubs in Asia on Tuesday, Victory disposed of the reigning ACL champions 2-0 while Western Sydney all-but qualified for the knockout stage by beating Ulsan Hyundai in Korea.
Victory still has work to do against Jeonbuk in their final match to progress beyond the group stage for the first time in four attempts.
But after watching his former club dismantle Asia’s best, Vargas is dreaming big for Victory and the other two A-League club’s also punching above their weight.
“That’s the greatest win (by Victory) in the Champions league by a long shot,” Vargas said on Wednesday.
“To beat the reigning champions and pretty convincingly…it showed they are up there with the best teams in Asia.
“And all the A-League clubs are doing well. The standard of play has improved every year in the A-League, the coaching has improved and I think it’s showing in the results.
“All three teams are looking good to qualify. I remember when Adelaide made the final, they managed their squads well and the players got used to grinding out results.
“The teams we have there at the moment are well prepared and have enough quality to hurt the better sides in Asia. We can only hope they go further on in the competition and I think they can (go all the way).”
Vargas said the coaches deserve a lot of credit for the way the A-League clubs have performed in the ACL and hopes Victory’s performance will silence Muscat’s doubters.
“At the start people were quick to jump on his back and criticise him,” Vargas said of Muscat.
“When they went through that patch where they lost two games in a row 5-0 against Sydney and Wellington, a lot of people started to question his ability but I think last night really showed his ability and he’s come a long way.
“For (Marcelo) Lippi to make a change after 20 minutes showed something wasn’t right and Victory we’re playing well and looking dangerous.
“He’s coming up against teams with multi-million dollar budgets and the boys matched it with the best. He’s done a great job.”
Victory stunned Guangzhou with a second minute goal from skipper Mark Milligan before the impressive James Troisi iced the result in stoppage time.
They have an elimination final against Sydney FC on Friday to focus on now before switching their focus back to progressing in the ACL next week.
“We go to Jeonbuk in our last game with our destiny in our hands,” Muscat said.”I wouldn’t go as far as to say we played the current champions off the park but we were very good.
“I’m still trying to come to terms with it. It is going to be a pretty easy game to review. We were outstanding. To create so many chances against a very good side…it says a lot about how far we have come in this competition.”
It was a ‘Super Tuesday- for Hyundai A-League teams with Western Sydney winning in South Korea.
Wanderers boss Tony Popovic, whose side only need a point at home to Guizhou next week to progress, credited his players’ character for their huge result against Ulsan.
“The players that played tonight haven’t had a lot of game time but you can see the quality they have and also the spirit they showed,” he said.
“A lot of them in last 10 minutes were very tired but they stayed strong and we’re very proud of everyone one of them.
“We still feel we need to do a job on Tuesday. What this result has done has put it in our control. If we get a result at home we go through. We’ve earned the right to be in this position, now we need to finish the job at home.”
Click here to purchase tickets for the Wanderers next home match in the ACL against Guizhou Renhe on 22 April 8pm at Pirtek Stadium.