Nine-man Fury steal a point

Melbourne Victory have shared the points against a nine-man North Queensland in a fiery and tense 2-2 draw at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.

Melbourne Victory have shared the points against a nine-man North Queensland in a fiery and tense 2-2 draw at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.

Referee Chris Boyle awarded three penalties, with conversions from Kevin Muscat in the 30th and 75th minute cancelling out an early first-half strike from flashy Fury striker Eugene Sseppuya, before Chris Payne equalised the scores in the 81st minute with his spot kick.

Straight from the opening whistle, the Victory looked crisp and precise as they controlled the ball down the right flank, with play opening up for the ever present Mate Dugandzic who had his last touch desert him with Leigh Broxham presenting front and centre.

After a period of flowing football from both sides, it was the Fury who drew first blood and from their first set piece, a corner delivered from the left side found its way to Sseppuya, who scrambled the ball under a desperate defensive lunge from Rody Vargas to have the visitors in control.

Chances would come thick and fast for the Victory soon after however as Tom Pondeljak took the reigns of chief playmaker, sending Carlos Hernandez on consecutive raids down the left, with the Fury defence standing firm to deny his powerful left footed drives on both occasions.

The game was turned on its head inside 28 minutes as Pondeljak used his body to cushion a ball into the path of returned striker Robbie Kruse, who in his efforts to control it, was brought down late by Chris Grossman, with the Fury defender shown a straight red card.

From the spot kick, Muscat would make no mistake as he sent Justin Pasfield to the right, before crashing the ball straight into the back of the net.

With the half nearing conclusion, a smart interchange of passes through midfield released Robbie Kruse, who from high inside the right of the area, had his shot fall to Pondeljak who missed an early toe poke home from point-blank range.

Early in the second half, Dugandzic was shown a yellow for simulation then sent a powerful drive into the post barely a minute later.

Soon after, Kruse latched onto a through ball inside the penalty box, Payne would see his sliding challenge from behind deemed fair, as the Victory faithful found their voice with Kruse also booked for simulation.

Dugandzic went close to handing the Victory the lead in the 68th minute as his intended chip over Pasfield was defended on the last line by Mark Hughes before the game-s second penalty was awarded in the 73rd, with Malik catching Kellaway millimeters inside the area.

Muscat would once again convert truly from the spot to hand Melbourne the lead before a tangle inside the Fury penalty area with nine minutes of regulation time remaining saw Payne awarded the spot kick and had Eric Akoto sent off for a shove on Muscat.

With Payne finding the back of the net to level at 2-2, a frantic last 10-minute period saw Adrian Leijer given a chance to snatch the victory late, only for his full blooded header at the near post to flash wide, ensuring the points would be shared in an epic tussle.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Muscat 30p, 75p)
North Queensland Fury 2 (Sseppuya 15, Payne 82p)