Melbourne Victory’s Asian Champions League campaign has suffered a major setback, losing 3-1 at home on their opening night to Daegu FC.
Ola Toivonen made a scoring return to Victory’s starting side but goals to Cesinha, Hwang Soon-min and Edgar left Victory with a power of work to realise their Asian ambitions.
Victory had no answer to the sublime skills of Daegu’s Brazilian forwards Cesinha and Edgar, who both dazzled and disarmed the A-League champions.
The result ended Victory’s 12-match unbeaten run at home in the continental competition.
Kevin Muscat’s side is also in a mid-season slump, without a win in a month.
The loss wasn’t their only setback on Tuesday night.
The club was also forced to play in an away kit after axing a problematic shirt sponsorship just hours from kick-off.
At least for the first half-hour at AAMI Park, Victory bossed the contest.
Toivonen and fellow World Cup star Keisuke Honda started together for just the fifth time since arriving in Melbourne, and combined well in the opening stanza.
Kosta Barbarouses linked with Honda to power through midfield before the Kiwi crossed for Toivonen, who beat his marker to volley home.
Daegu’s reply was swift and stunning.
Just two minutes after Victory took the lead, Cesinha cracked a superb volley into the net, latching onto Edgar’s knockdown with power.
The Koreans had the ascendancy but had to wait until after the break to take the lead.
Cesinha raced through midfield to tee up Hwang, whose shot deflected off the backside of Storm Roux past a helpless Lawrence Thomas.
With the match on their terms, the towering Brazilian Edgar grabbed a third by outmuscling Thomas Deng and finishing while on the ground from another cross.
Honda had chances either side of the scoring – a close range volley and a free header – to nab goals for Victory but fired straight at goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo both times.
Given the nature of the competition, Victory will need at least a point – and preferably a win – in their next match to keep their hopes of progressing to the next round alive.
They won’t have to wait long for a chance at redemption, facing Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Japan next Tuesday night.