A maiden goal for Elvis Kamsoba was the pick of the bunch as Melbourne Victory smashed Indonesian Champions Bali United 5-0 in the first round of the Asian Champions League qualifiers.

Victory were expected to control the game playing at home, their status as favourites nearly realised inside 3 minutes after Robbie Kruse edged a beautiful cross from Adama Traore just wide of the goal. 

Another close chance came soon via Josh Hope who, having drifted beautifully between the lines, set up Andrew Nabbout with a beautiful flick.

Frustratingly for Nabbout, whose struggles in front of goal this season have been well documented, blasted his eventual effort wide.

Unperturbed by their multitude of spurned chances, Victory showed no signs of slowing down, going close once more through Kruse. Having been set through on goal by way of a Bali United defensive mix-up, the Victory forward could only shake his head in disbelief as his eventual effort was blocked by a beautiful last-ditch challenge from Hadui Abdullah. 

But just as it seemed as though that the footballing God’s weren’t keen on Victory scoring, the hosts finally found the breakthrough on 14 minutes. 

Having bombed on from right-back, Storm Roux found himself surging down the right with options aplenty in the penalty area. He eventually decided on a pass to Kamsoba who, in turn, unselfishly flicked it to an unmarked Migjen Basha. From the edge of the penalty, the much-maligned Albanian made no mistake, driving the ball home assuredly to give Victory a well-deserved advantage.

Perhaps awakened by their opponents breaking the deadlocked, Bali fashioned their first clear chance of the game just minutes after going behind, with a floated cross from Stefano Lilipaly headed just wide by Melvin Platje.

While he had been central to the majority of Victory’s attacking chances thus far, a goal for Kamsoba continued to prove painfully elusive. He couldn’t have come much closer on 22 minutes, though, his initial strike from a Storm Roux cross cannoning off the post before the subsequent follow up was saved by Bali keeper Wawan Hendarawan.

While they struggled for possession of the ball, Bali proved capable of causing threat to Victory with what little of the ball they did have. Their most promising chance of the half came on 26 minutes through Platje, who spooned an inviting cross from Ricky Fajrin over the crossbar. 

United would go close again just minutes later, finally forcing a save out of Lawrence Thomas by way of a powerful drive from Portuguese midfielder Paulo Sergio.

But despite their growing offensive threat, Bali were once again left wanting at the back. Their defence was split open by a lofted pass from Basha, which set Robbie Kruse free, hurtling towards the penalty area.

From there, the Balinese outfit could only watch on in horror as Kruse squared it to an unmarked Josh Hope – who gratefully doubled Victory’s advantage heading into half-time. 

While the first 45 ended with attacking chances aplenty, the opening to the game’s second stanza was comparatively tame. It took 20 minutes for either side to conjure up an inviting chance which, somewhat ironically, ended in a goal.

Having been slipped into the penalty box by (guess who?) Kamsoba, Anthony Lesiotis darted his eyes up in search of a target. Squaring it invitingly across the box, he then found one in the form of a certain Robert Kruse. 

While Kruse had wasted a previous opportunity of a similar nature in the first half, he made no mistake with this chance on 59 minutes, slotting his effort calmly past Hendrawan to put the game beyond reasonable doubt. 

In spite of the overwhelming scoreline, Bali United continued to press in search of a route back into the game. Just minutes after the home side had made it three, Bail substitute Leo Rahmat had a golden opportunity inside the penalty area. A consolation goal proved elusive though, as Rahmat sent the chance skyward.

Although Victory’s three goals to this point were impressive from a collective standpoint, it was an effort of individual brilliance in the 80th minute that proved to be the best of the lot.

Following the breakdown of a Victory corner, a bouncing ball tantalisingly sat up on the edge of the box for substitute Ola Toivonen.

Just 14 minutes into his injury return, Toivonen’s eventual shot reminded Victory fans what they’d been missing, as the 33-year-old casually volleyed home Victory’s fourth with trademark nonchalance. 

Undoubtedly, the home side’s fourth goal was the most magnificent, but their fifth and final one drew undoubtedly the biggest reaction. Having had a goal elude him on innumerable occasions, both in this game and his Victory tenure, it seemed a piece of poetic justice that the game end with a goal from Elvis Kamsoba.

With stoppage time seconds away, the Burundian-born winger was slipped in by Toivonen, eventually sliding it in under a helpless Hendrawan with a level of composure not seen in his previous attempts

He had been denied by VAR in the past, but for the first time in his 383 days at the club, Kamsoba could finally unleash his trademark backflip with freedom. 

His goal capped off a pleasing performance for Melbourne Victory, one which sees them advance to take on Kashima Antlers on the 28th of January for a place in the ACL group stage.


Lachie Flannigan