Melbourne Victory’s ambition of heading to the round of 16 in the AFC Champions League didn’t go to script, but they ended the group stage campaign on a positive note.

The match was a dead rubber, however Victory’s win meant youngsters and inexperienced heads got their taste of success against the Chinese powerhouse Shanghai SIPG.

Thomas Deng was pleased that Victory’s squad rotation worked a treat in preparation for an important elimination final with Adelaide United in the A-League.

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“It was a good performance considering we had a lot of young boys coming in,” he said.

“Some of the boys haven’t had many opportunities this season, but they did well and we’re very happy with the performance and the win.”

Deng was happy to be one of the leaders in a settled back four that allowed the rest of the team to work together as a unit.

“Rhys Williams, James Donachie, Terry Antonis and myself had to step up, be the leaders of the team and try help out the young boys as much as we could, we’re happy for them,” said Deng.

“I thought tonight was fairly comfortable – we held our structure really well, picked our moments to press, retained possession and penetrated going forward.”

Brazilian superstar Hulk clearly showed what his capable of in his second half display and while he was hard to stop with strength and pace, Deng enjoyed the contest.

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“He’s a beast, nothing else I can say,” he said.

“He’s a world class player who played in the World Cup so it’s a good experience for all of us coming up against players of that calibre, it was a good challenge for us.

“It’s always a good experience playing against those who have played in the top leagues of the world and seeing how you can compare yourself against them.”

Victory might be wondering what could’ve been in this group stage campaign against quality opponents but if they make it back into the ACL, Deng is confident they can do better.

“You always learn a lot from these experiences, even though we didn’t qualify I think next time that it comes around we’ll be ready and know what to do and expect.”

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Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.