Full points move Victory top

Melbourne Victory has moved to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder after defeating Brisbane Roar 2-1 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory has moved to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder after defeating Brisbane Roar 2-1 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Victory defender Adrian Leijer scored the winner in the 72nd minute after Roar striker Reinaldo had cancelled out Ney Fabiano’s early strike in front of Victory’s biggest crowd of the year (19,587).

Despite struggling with the free kicks throughout the match, Melbourne playmaker Carlos Hernandez delivered the perfect cross to the far post to present Leijer with the scoring opportunity. The former Fulham defender rose highest to meet the ball and after his initial header was blocked, he reacted quickest to blast the loose ball into the roof of the net.

Melbourne fully deserved its victory and was unlucky not to score more after dominating for large periods of the game and creating the best chances.

The win moves Victory to top of the ladder on 15 points, one point clear of Gold Coast and Perth, but the Central Coast or Sydney could overtake the defending champions by the end of the round.

Former Roar player Robbie Kruse came into the starting line-up at the expense of veteran Grant Brebner as the only change to the side that defeated Gold Coast 3-2 last weekend.

Fabiano opened the scoring in the third minute of play when he capitalised on a superb cross from fellow striker Archie Thompson. Hernandez laid the ball off to Victory’s marquee man, who then delivered an inch-perfect ball to Fabiano, who connected sweetly with a diving header that left Roar keeper Liam Reddy with no chance.

Brisbane had the ball in the back of the net just five minutes later, but the goal was ruled out because David Dodd used his hand to divert Charlie Miller’s cross past Victory shotstopper Glen Moss. Dodd received a yellow card for his troubles.

The visitors did find an equaliser in quick time though with Reinaldo hitting the back of the net after being played through on goal by Miller. The sheer pace of the Brazilian’s shot left Moss with no chance, despite the New Zealander getting his feet to the shot.

The end-to-end action continued and Thompson was unlucky not put the hosts in front in the 20th minute when he expertly stepped around defender Ivan Franjic before firing a vicious left-foot striker that had Reddy well beaten but not the crossbar.

Thompson was presented with another golden opportunity towards the end of the half when he latched on to a superb through ball from Broxham, after the defender had made a great interception, but after carving out the space to shoot, the strike lacked venom and Reddy was able to make a regulation save.

Victory had yet another chance to score when Kruse won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Hernandez stepped up to take it, but his 30-yard blast had the sting taken out of it by the Brisbane wall and Reddy was able to gather easily.

There was still time for one final chance right on the stroke of half-time, but after playing a superb one-two with Hernandez, Fabiano’s powerful shot cannoned off the inside of the upright, leaving the sides locked at 1-1 at the break.

Aside from Reinaldo’s goal, Victory’s defence had rarely been troubled and Rody Vargas ensured the score remained level when he made a great block on a goal-bound effort from the Roar goal-scorer.

In his first start for his new club, Kruse made a great run into the box, but his attempted cut back was prodded clear by the Roar defence straight into the path of Hernandez, however he skied his shot.

Victory brought on Tom Pondeljak for Fabiano in the 67th minute and shortly after Thompson won a free kick in a dangerous area, but Hernandez again failed to hit the target.

The Costa Rican redeemed himself shortly after when he hit the perfect cross for Leijer to score and from there Victory’s defence held firm to record its first home win of the year.

Next week Melbourne welcomes the visit of Sydney to Etihad Stadium for a Friday night blockbuster.

Melbourne Victory 2(Ney Fabiano 3, Leijer 72)
Brisbane Roar 1 (Reinaldo 11)
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Crowd: 19,587