Melbourne Victory are still in the finals race after a sensational second half performance led by Damien Da Silva secured a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Wellington Phoenix.
Head coach Tony Popovic made two changes to his XI for the trip to Wellington, with veteran Leigh Broxham returning to the lineup alongside Eli Adams who was making his A-League Men’s starting debut for the club.
Victory started the game brightly, although the home side quickly worked their way into the contest and evened out the general play.
The first goal arrived 25 minutes into the game, when a series of ricochets led to Oskar Zawada being played through one-on-one, before calmly finishing past Paul Izzo to give Wellington the lead.
Another blow for Victory who again found themselves behind after making a positive start.
The Phoenix created the majority of chances for the remainder of the half, although Victory did enough to keep them at bay and ensure the scoreline remained 1-0 at the break.
Popovic opted for a double substitution to begin the second 45, with Lleyton Brooks and Stefan Nigro brought on to replace Adams and Broxham.
Victory had their goalkeeper Izzo to thank for keeping them in the game early in the second half, making two extraordinary saves in the space of just a few minutes to deny Wellington another goal.
His goal-saving efforts were soon repaid at the other end of the pitch, as Victory found their equaliser just before the hour mark.
A simple Damien Da Silva flick-on from a corner found Bruno Fornaroli lurking at the back post to put the chance away, breathing life back into the contest.
The visitors capitalised on their momentum with a series of attempts on goal, most notably when the ball fell to Brooks 10 minutes later who fired a snap-shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.
Victory continued to pile on the pressure, although Wellington also looked capable of snagging a late goal as the game entered its final 15 minutes.
The game needed a hero, and Da Silva proved to be that man.
The French defender was once again the target of a corner, and although his initial attempt was unsuccessful, Da Silva reacted quickly to strike the ball with his right boot past Oli Sail and into the back of the net.
A moment of jubilation for Victory who had pulled off an unlikely comeback to take the lead ahead of the final 10 minutes.
Popovic’s side defended valiantly for the remainder of the contest, and it proved to be just enough as Victory came away with all three points from Sky Stadium.
The winning goal…
The win is Victory’s second in a row, lifting them off the bottom of the table and into 10th position, just three points behind sixth-placed Sydney FC.
Isuzu UTE A-League 2022/23 Round 22
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Zawada 25′)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Fornaroli 58′, Da Silva 76′)
Victory return to action on Wednesday night to complete December’s derby game against Melbourne City, kicking off at 7:00pm AEST at AAMI Park.