Muscat hails ‘outstanding’ Toivonen, Victory


Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat praised Ola Toivonen’s latest fine performance after a 2-1 win over Sydney FC on Australia Day.

Toivonen scored a stunning free-kick and had a hand in James Troisi’s second-half goal at AAMI Park.

The Swedish striker, 32, broke a club record, reaching 10 Hyundai A-League goals quicker than any other player for Victory, needing just 13 games.

Victory held on and returned to second on the table despite Milos Ninkovic’s goal for the Sky Blues.

Speaking at a post-match news conference, Muscat discussed his side’s display, Toivonen’s form and Corey Brown’s performance.

On holding on…
“When you’re playing against a good team and you go ahead, they’re going to throw everything at you at the end there. I thought the way we defended and we had to defend differently because Sydney in their desperation become very, very direct, playing balls in the air to contests and then trying to pick up second balls and trying to win the contest. It was a different type of defending from us, but I thought the back four, supported by Carl (Valeri) and the midfielders, were outstanding. If you go back over this month of January, all of them guys have had to back up and near enough play every minute of every game so I thought it was a huge effort, massive effort. Then you see the desperation, Kosta (Barbarouses) – with the bodies and personnel we’ve got at the moment – ends up playing in midfield and having to do a job for his team and the way he’s tenaciously winning a couple of tackles in front of the bench there and the noise our members and fans made was brilliant and that’s happening as a regular occurrence here, the support we get from our members and fans but it was nice to hear it again. It was outstanding. It was a great night and it was an entertaining game.”

on the game…
“I’m not out there kicking a ball, but I’m playing, trust me, it’s emotional. It was just great. Elvis (Kamsoba) comes on and the goals we scored and more importantly I think the way we played from the outset in that first half, to really pin them in, really pin them in and earn our first goal was some outstanding football, really, really exciting, entertaining football and then Ola scores a freak of a free-kick.”

on Toivonen’s form…
“I’m not so sure it can be down to one person, but if we’re speaking about Ola and his contribution – outstanding. He’s coming in for some real treatment as well now. The amount of tackles he’s conceding at the moment, but his quality really stood out again tonight with his free-kick. I watch a lot of football this weekend, majority of it international, and I don’t think I’ll see a bit of brilliance like that, for him to bring that ball down like he did (for the second goal). If (Lionel) Messi scores a free-kick like that as well this weekend, the world will be raving about it.”

on Brown’s performance…
“Without going into too much detail, Corey’s been asked to perform under a lot of duress over the last three games, maybe last week was a little bit too much for him in terms of a little bit of an issue he’s got. To respond the way he did tonight and I’ll take responsibility for last week, not Corey, I’ll take responsibility because in the end I made a decision to put him out there and as he does he accepts it and wants to work and do well for the team and tonight with some good rest over the last four or five days, he was outstanding in defending and playing balls forward into dangerous areas and I was really pleased for him, he stood up for the team.”