Another three points for Victory


Melbourne Victory have backed up last week’s derby triumph over Melbourne Heart with a thrilling 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Melbourne Victory have backed up last week’s derby triumph over Melbourne Heart with a thrilling 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Goals to derby heroes Marco Rojas (two) and Archie Thompson set up the three points for the home side, as Ange Postecoglou’s men continued to put pressure on the A-League’s top two, Central Coast and Adelaide.

Rojas’ wonderful individual effort on 34 minutes put Victory ahead, before the New Zealand starlet put through Qantas Socceroo striker Thompson for the game’s second goal just prior to the interval.

The Jets hit back via a long-range effort from captain Ruben Zadkovich, before former English Premier League star Emile Heskey equalised for the visitors midway through the second stanza.

But a stunning turn-and-volley from Rojas in the 75th minute saw the home side to a thrilling victory, taking them to third in the table, and just four points from leaders Central Coast.

Suspensions to captain Adrian Leijer and midfielder Mark Milligan had some questioning whether Victory would cope with the threat of Jets front man Heskey, but the doubters were silenced by an impressive performance from Leigh Broxham.

Leijer and Milligan were both suspended from Victory’s derby win, which saw Broxham in the unfamiliar centre-back role alongside the fresh-faced Nick Ansell.

Right-back Diogo Ferreira was also excluded from the starting XI due to a groin injury, with Matthew Foschini coming in.

But despite the changes down back, Victory kept the Jets quiet early before controlling the game from late in the first half onwards.

Rojas bore the fruit of Victory’s labour when his run from the left culminated in his dipping strike beating Jets custodian Mark Birighitti, landing in the right-hand corner of the net.

The goal opened the game right up, and Victory’s speedy front men then created the second goal, with Rojas nipping past the Jets defence, and Thompson was waiting unmarked in front of Birighitti, and the Socceroo striker was able to steer in Rojas’ cross to double Melbourne’s lead.

Victory could have held a man advantage from the 26th minute onwards after Rojas was fouled by Samuel Gallaway on the edge of the area – causing central referee Kris Griffiths-Jones to consult with his linesman as to whether it was a dismissable offence for a last-man breach.

But Griffiths-Jones adjudged it was only worth a yellow card to Gallaway – and the free-kick, taken by impressive midfielder Gui Finkler, amounted to nothing.

Victory would weather some early Jets pressure in the second half, and could have had a third goal when Thompson was released on a vintage sprint, but he could only find the side-netting under pressure from the Newcastle defence.

Goalkeeper Nathan Coe was not needed much in the first period, but produced some steady saves in the first 15 minutes after half-time which would have pleased Postecoglou.

Approaching the hour mark, Thompson again was a threat on Newcastle’s net, finding himself one-on-one with a drawn Birighitti, but despite some fancy footwork and tricks, and a ball through to an unmarked Finkler, Victory were unable to make it three.

And a Zadkovich bullet in the 64th minute pulled one back for the Jets, with the Newcastle skipper striking one from long range – not dissimilar to the goal he scored against Victory at the venue almost exactly two years earlier.

Heskey then tucked in an equaliser for Gary van Egmond’s side, with the Englishman finding the roof of the net from a Josh Brillante cross from a cleared corner, but it would be Rojas with the final say.

The diminutive attacker turned and struck a powerful volley past Birighitti, to immediately have the Victory faithful back in a positive mood, having been stung by the Jets recovery.

Substitute Andrew Nabbout almost sealed the result within minutes of gracing the field, as he curled one past the Jets’ goal, while Thompson had a curled effort from the edge of the area saved by a diving Birighitti.

But it would matter little in the end, as Victory soaked up some late Jets pressure to earn all three points – including a sterling save from Coe on a close-range Adam Taggart strike in the 89th minute.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Rojas 34, 74 Thompson 45)
Newcastle Jets 2 (Zadkovich 64, Heskey 73)
Crowd : 21,054 @AAMI Park