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Oct 21, 2018   |  12:04AM AET

Muscat: It’s a good starting point

Muscat: It’s a good starting point

Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat was encouraged by his team’s display in its 2-1 Derby loss to City on Saturday.

Keisuke Honda’s header was cancelled out by Ritchie De Laet before Riley McGree scored a second-half winner for City at Marvel Stadium.

A much-changed Victory was unfortunate not to take at least a point out of the Round 1 encounter, the performance leaving Muscat pleased with the platform his team has to build from.

On the penalty…
“What I will say, that first 40 minutes before that incident, I thought we were outstanding – total dominance, total control and playing some really attacking and exciting stuff. We could sense things we’d been working on, there was evidence of that, players began to draw confidence and belief from that, scored a really good goal and deserved goal for the amount of relentless pressure we were putting them under and then to concede the way we did at the time we did, if anything gave them some momentum which I didn’t think we deserved at that point in time. Penalty? I’d just go as far as saying it’s not a foul, it’s as simple as that. It’s not a foul, but because the initial decision, we go up and it was clear the three or four players were inside the box.”

on the VAR…
“Everybody makes mistakes. My understanding of the rules – I don’t think anybody comes out to explain them because it’d be a lot better for yourselves, us and everybody at home – but my understanding is you can only overturn it and not give a foul if it’s simulation or handball or one of those things where the attacker has gained an unfair advantage. This was not the case. I think the surprise by everybody, their players included, when a foul was given and then couldn’t believe their luck when they actually got a penalty. In the second half, I think even when it was 1-1, again, we created some really good chances. Kosta (Barbarouses) goes through one-on-one with the keeper, Jimmy (Troisi) hits the inside of the post, goes agonisingly close, at 2-1 Kenny (Athiu) has a great chance after performing so well. Kenny was outstanding for us. So, there were some things in the second half I think we allowed them to get out of a press a little bit too easy, there was a couple of reasons why that’s the case but if we use that as a snapshot, we’ll continue to work on things and get better. There were some real positives to start with, really good starting point for us. Everybody is going to be disappointed, but I suppose everybody will analyse the result and we would’ve liked to have had a different result but in terms of the performance I thought there was some really good stuff from us.”

on Honda’s game…
“It was outstanding. He’s a very, very clever footballer, the understanding that he’s got with his team-mates in such a short period of time and he was exciting. Every time he got the ball, he was exciting, he stays up as well, he takes a lot of treatment but he stays on his feet, he’s not trying to milk fouls, he stays on his feet and he competes and on that as well, I think there were seven players in the 11 that were new from our last game so the amount of work that the players have put in to start off with a performance like that was encouraging. It’s a good starting point for us to keep building and getting better.”

on Toivonen’s fitness and Athiu…
“It was one of those where looking at it throughout the week, Ola’s pulled up a little bit sore but I’d rather focus on Kenny. Kenny’s the real story for me because I thought he worked tirelessly, he caused a lot of problems and in terms of what he was asked to do for the team, his team-mates will testify that he carried his role out superbly.”