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Dec 28, 2018   |  12:29PM AET

Muscat happy with second-half improvement

Muscat happy with second-half improvement

Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat praised his side’s second-half improvement in a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix on Friday.

Ola Toivonen cancelled out David Williams’ second-half opener at AAMI Park as Victory extended its unbeaten run to eight games in the Hyundai A-League.

Speaking post-match, Muscat discussed the game, Nick Ansell’s injury and provided another update on sidelined trio Keisuke Honda, Georg Niedermeier and Raul Baena.

on the game…
“You can dissect it in many ways. Everyone that sits here around the league points to shots on goal and possession and all those things to justify one thing or another. Normally, two coaches contradict themselves because they’re both saying the same things about the same numbers. From our perspective, I think we recognised that we were going to have a lot of the ball. They want the game to come onto them. They have seven players across the edge of their box and they want to transition very quickly and they’re very good at it. From our point, we weren’t too happy with the way we dealt with that because it gave them energy, gave them oxygen. Then in the second half I think it was totally different. We were asking a lot more questions, we were finishing off actions, creating and earning opportunities and even at the death there, to get the goal back against a team that sits deep and has a lot of bodies in the back third, to get the goal back and keep pushing on and try get the winner was pleasing.”

on Ansell’s injury…
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him, but it looked like a hamstring to me. When Leigh (Broxham) went back there, he was a good performer for us. Second half he definitely stood up. A direct replacement for Nick, what it does do is it throws you out very early. We get another injury early on where we have to adapt and move people around so what affect that has, I don’t know, but Leigh specifically, I thought he performed very well.”

on Josh Hope’s performance…
“That’s the longest he’s probably played and for him to come on at that point (for Ansell in the 12th minute), he worked tirelessly. His understanding of what’s required of him is improving. He’s improving tactically in understanding his role and he worked tirelessly and him coming off was purely a fatigue factor.”

updates on Honda, Niedermeier and Baena…
“For clarity, when I was asked about Georg yesterday (Thursday), I said he’s not available because he was nowhere near being available. Keisuke and Raul were a genuine chance of being available. If they’re a genuine chance, I’ll leave the decision until as close as I can before the game. Next week, I’m optimistic – based on training and how things go – Keisuke will at this stage train and we’ll see how he goes. Raul is in the same boat. Georg, we’ll see how he goes early on, I’m less optimistic about him, but he’s a chance as well.”