Tianjin: Tianjin Teda maintain top spot in Group E of the 2011 AFC Champions League after sharing the spoils with Melbourne Victory in a 1-1 draw at Tianjin Teda Stadium despite being reduced to 10 men.
In a game of contrasting halves, the Chinese Super League outfit dominated the first period while Melbourne were the better side in the second that also saw Tianjin’s scoring hero Marco Zoric sent off.
Zoric headed home at the second attempt to put the hosts ahead after 19 minutes but Kevin Muscat cancelled out his effort 10 minutes after the break.
Unbeaten Tianjin remain top of the group on seven points, one ahead of Jeju United who defeated Gamba Osaka 2-1. Melbourne remain in contention for a place in the last 16 after gaining their first point of this year's continental campaign.
The visitors came close to a first goal just two minutes in when Adrian Leijer was just inches away from tapping home.
Yu Dabao looked to reply three minutes later, only to see his fierce 30-yard shot fly over the crossbar.
The home side began to prove more dangerous with Chen Tao pulling the strings in midfield.
In the 11th minute, Chen back-heeled to Wu Weian down the left and the latter clipped an inviting centre across the face of the goal, only to see an unmarked Yu volley over.
But Tianjin then went ahead eight minutes later.
Li Weifeng headed Li Benjian’s corner straight at team-mate Yu but Zoric reacted quickly to head the rebound goalwards. Keeper Tando Velaphi parried the ball out only to see the Serbian nod it past him at the second attempt.
Zhang Xiaobin almost doubled the lead for the hosts six minutes before half-time, collecting Wu’s long cross before pulling the trigger from 15 yards with a powerful drive that hit the bar.
The onrushing Luciano Olguin steered the rebound over the frame of the goal.
The visitors then made the most of a corner kick 10 minutes into the second-half when Muscat leapt higher than Zoric to head Carlos Hernandez’ corner past keeper Yang Qipeng at the near post.
Melbourne continued to attack with Marco Rojas springing Tianjin’s offside trap. Rojas sidestepped Yang in the penalty area but Archie Thompson took over and unleashed a close-range shot that was intercepted by Li Weifang in front of the goalline.
Obiora Odita wasted a good chance to restore the lead for the hosts midway through the second-half, collecting a loose ball on the edge of the box before curling a left-footed attempt wide off the right post.
Zoric was then sent off a quarter of an hour before the final whistle for a reckless challenge on Hernandez.
The visitors were on top for the remainder of the game, hassling the Tianjin defenders but unable to find a way through their opponents’ rearguard.