The A-League champions have joined Sydney FC in failing to reach the AFC Champions League knockout stages.
The involvement of Australian clubs in this year’s AFC Champions League is over after Melbourne City joined Sydney FC in failing to reach the competition’s knockout stages.
Despite remaining unbeaten in six Group G matches, City needed Japanese club Vissel Kobe to beat Hong Kong outfit Kitchee in the final match in Group J to advance to the round of 16 as one of the east region’s best three second-placed group teams.
However, the Kobe-Kitchee clash finished in a 2-2 draw, meaning Group J runners up Kitchee advanced at City’s expense.
That’s despite City finishing on 12 points compared to Kitchee’s seven.
However, only half of City’s total counted in the ranking of second-placed sides because all results against each of the four-team groups bottom side was wiped due to Group J only having three clubs following the withdrawal of Chinese outfit Shanghai Port.
“We came here into the unknown and we didn’t lose a game,” City coach Patrick Kisnorbo said in reflecting on his club’s maiden Champions League campaign.
“It’s a fantastic effort from our players. Our players should all be very proud of themselves.”
In stark contrast to City’s unbeaten showing, Sydney FC finished bottom of Group H following a 1-0 weekend loss to Vietnamese club Hoàng Anh Gia Lai
Sydney failed to win a Group H game, finishing last with just two points from six matches.
Sky Blues coach Steve Corica said: “(It was) a disappointing way to finish the tournament.”
Sydney must find form quickly to have any chance of contesting the A-League finals series.
With two games of their domestic campaign remaining, the Sky Blues are five points outside the top six.
They need not only to win their matches but also hope that Central Coast Mariners and/or Wellington Phoenix fall in a heap in their remaining two games.
Melbourne City’s A-League destiny is firmly in there hands. The competition leaders will seal the Premier’s Plate with wins in their final two matches.
They travel to Perth to meet the last-placed Glory on Wednesday night before returning to Melbourne for a clash with the Phoenix next Monday.