Melbourne Victory extended its unbeaten run in the Hyundai A-League to eight games after a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix on Friday.
Ola Toivonen scored yet again at AAMI Park, cancelling out David Williams’ second-half opener for Phoenix.
The result was enough to move Victory top of the table for now as it continued its unbeaten run.
In what was an open start, Roy Krishna had an early chance for Wellington while Kosta Barbarouses got in behind at the other end.
After some quick thinking from captain Carl Valeri – playing his 100th Hyundai A-League game for Victory – Terry Antonis fired wide from 25 yards in the 20th minute.
The half-chances continued as Williams and Barbarouses squandered opportunities either side of Mandi’s free-kick going just wide for Wellington.
Victory threatened again in the 35th minute, but no-one was able to get on the end of Barbarouses’ teasing delivery from the left, before Josh Hope – on for the injured Nick Ansell – tested Filip Kurto.
Lawrence Thomas made a one-on-one save to deny Sarpreet Singh before the break as the teams went into the interval level.
The entertaining encounter continued to begin the second half, with James Troisi curling a strike wide for Victory before having a 20-yard effort pushed away by Kurto.
Krishna then threatened for Phoenix approaching the hour-mark, but he fired wide of Thomas’ left post from inside the area.
Wellington opened the scoring in the 62nd minute through Williams, whose curler from 20 yards found the top corner.
Victory looked for an instant response and it found it through the in-form Toivonen 15 minutes later.
The Swede scored his fifth of the season, turning in an effort from Antonis from close range.
Victory finished strongly as Barbarouses forced a near-post save from Kurto before volleying over from an angle, but it was unable to find a winner.
Player in focus
What they said – Barbarouses
on the game…
“They press in the front third quite well. I don’t think we made the most of trying to beat that first press because when we did, we opened it up quite well. We just didn’t look confident enough, especially in the first half, to do that and we could’ve hurt them that way. I think we came into the game pretty well, disappointed with the draw but we’ve got to move on.”
on the absences and Ansell’s injury…
“It’s always tough losing a player early. You work on things during the week and how you think it’s going to look and a personnel change and the picture does change a little bit. Broxy (Leigh Broxham) has played there plenty of times before. I think Hopey can do really well in the team and I think he did well tonight. You’ve just got to deal with it, you can’t make excuses, we’re a few players short at the moment but we’re coping with it pretty well.”
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Round 10
Melbourne Victory 1 (Ola Toivonen 77′)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (David Williams 62′)
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk); Roux, Deng, Ansell (Hope 12′ (Akbari 88′)), Brown; Valeri (c); Broxham, Troisi (Athiu 65′), Antonis; Barbarouses, Toivonen.
Wellington Phoenix: Kurto (gk); Taylor, Durante (c), Doyle; Fenton (Lowry 90+2′), Rufer, Singh, Mandi (Kopczynski 80′), Cacace; Krishna, Williams (Burns 87′).
Yellow cards: Fenton 16′, Singh 19′, Rufer 48′, Broxham 51′, Doyle 68′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: AAMI Park
Victory begins next year with a trip to the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday, January 5.