Vissel win thriller to advance in AFC Champions League

Vissel win thriller to advance in AFC Champions League

Vissel Kobe are into the group stage of the 2022 AFC Champions League thanks to a 4-3 victory over Australia’s Melbourne Victory in the play-off round. Andrés Iniesta scored the opening goal, but Lincoln was the hero with a stoppage time winner that fired Vissel on in the continental championship.

Iniesta gave Vissel the lead after six minutes when he was able to get on the end of a failed Melbourne clearance, turn and fire a shot just inside the post. For Vissel, who have gotten off to a slow start in league play, it was massive to get off to a quick jump in this play-off clash.

It took just six more minutes for Melbourne to equalize, getting their goal on a corner kick, but then the match turned into a battle. Neither team could break through for the rest of the half and then deep into the second half. It was a fight for the spot in the group stage that could not be decided until the final 20 minutes when the match broke wide open.

Nicholas D’Agostino, who scored Melbourne’s first, gave his side the lead with a second goal in the 71st minute, but Yuya Osako struck in the 80th and 87th minutes to put Vissel back in front. First, he redirected a header off a corner kick into the net to draw Vissel level, then Osako was first to a nearside cross and finished with aplomb to put the Japanese side in front.

The Ushi's lead didn’t last long with Melbourne drawing level again in the 90th minute, but that only set the stage for Lincoln’s late-game heroics. Five minutes into stoppage time, Iniesta slipped a pass in for Koya Yuruki down the left, who immediately crossed for Lincoln in front to knock into the open net and send the Vissel fans wild.

From an early lead, to a late deficit, to another lead erased, and finally a winner in the final minute, Vissel went through it all - and won. They booked their spot in the AFC Champions League group stage, and their dreams of conquering Asia in 2022 are alive and well.