Mathew Leckie injured as draw leaves Melbourne City on brink of ACL elimination

A late Zhejiang FC equaliser at Princes Park on Tuesday night could eliminate Melbourne City from the AFC Champions League.

A late Zhejiang FC equaliser at Princes Park on Tuesday night could eliminate Melbourne City from the AFC Champions League. Photo: Getty

Melbourne City is 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 2487 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 needs several results to fall its way across Tuesday and Wednesday nights to qualify as one of the three best second-placed teams.

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

He was injured in innocuous circumstances and was replaced by Jamie Maclaren, who started the game on the bench due to the management of his own undisclosed injury.

Both attackers’ issues will be of some concern to Socceroos boss Graham Arnold before 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 after 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 and then after the goal.

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

But City was 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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