Disaster for Melbourne City as late equaliser and key injuries leave their Asian Champions League campaign in tatters

Melbourne City are on the brink of a group-stage elimination from the Asian Champions League after slipping to a 1-1 draw with Zhejiang FC, with the result further soured by an injury to Mathew Leckie.

City needed to win and rely on Ventforet Kofu to either lose or draw with Buriram United to top group H and guarantee progression to the round of 16.

Tolgay Arslan’s goal put the hosts in front in the 54th minute in front of 2,487 fans at Princes Park, only for City to cough up an equaliser to Nyasha Mushekwi in the 99th minute.

Kofu beat Buriram 3-2 to seal top spot and City now need several results to fall their way across Tuesday and Wednesday nights to qualify as one of the three best second-placed teams.

“Obviously, very disappointing. Yeah, that hurts a lot because it was the last minute, we just didn’t deal with that corner very well at all,” coach Aurelio Vidmar said.

“Yeah, well. It’s a little bit hard now isn’t it? 

Melbourne City’s Jamie McLaren. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“So we’re really going to rely on the results for us.

“But I think we did enough tonight (that we) should have taken those three points and we would have been sitting pretty tonight but we have to wait. 

“Do a little bit of praying. Now the heavens have opened up – maybe that that’s a sign for tomorrow as well.”

Leckie limped off in the 61st minute holding his right hamstring – the opposite leg to the left knee injury that delayed his start to the season.

“He felt a bit of pain in the back of his leg so I’m not really sure exactly what it is,” Vidmar said.

“So we just have to wait an assess with the medical staff tomorrow and the next couple of days.”

Leckie was injured in innocuous circumstances and was replaced by Jamie Maclaren.

Maclaren started the game on the bench due to a lingering ankle issue, which Vidmar said he had been struggling to put weight on or turn with.

Both attackers’ issues will be of some concern to Socceroos boss Graham Arnold ahead of January’s Asian Cup, with the squad to be named later this month.

Without all-time leading goalscorer Maclaren, City looked toothless in attack in the opening half.

City came out of half-time with extra impetus and Steven Ugarkovic powered home a Marin Jakolis cross in the 52nd minute but it was chalked off for a foul after Leckie grabbed the shirt of Leung Nok Hang.

Two minutes later Ugarkovic teed up Arslan to tap home.

Multiple flares were set off after the disallowed chance with another after the goal.

City received a penalty in the 74th when substitute Harry Politidis went down under contact, but it was overturned after a VAR review.

But City were under pressure from there and conceded when Mushekwi bundled home in the dying seconds.

Zhejiang’s Dongsheng Wang was sent off at the end for a challenge on Politidis.

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