Melbourne Victory returned to second spot in the Hyundai A-League after an entertaining 2-1 win over Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Ola Toivonen scored a stunning free-kick before James Troisi doubled Victory’s lead in the second half.
Although Milos Ninkovic pulled a goal back for Sydney, Victory saw out its win, moving back into second and extending its unbeaten streak to four matches.
Victory made an energetic start in front of a lively crowd, although it was unable to capitalise on a couple of promising early set-pieces.
The host enjoyed the majority of possession and it took the lead through a spectacular strike from Toivonen in the 20th minute.
Troisi was fouled 25 yards from goal and the Swedish striker stepped up to curl a wonderful free-kick over the wall and in off the post for his 10th goal of the season, becoming the quickest to that mark for Victory.
The remainder of the half was a battle, largely in midfield, as Victory took a 1-0 lead into the break.
The first chance of the second half fell to Sydney, but Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas made a comfortable save from Paulo Retre’s 20-yard effort.
However, Victory doubled its lead just before the hour-mark thanks to Troisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Toivonen brought a ball down beautifully before putting in Raul Baena, who crossed from the right for Troisi to sweep in and make it 2-0.
Luke Ivanovic headed a Michael Zullo cross over the bar in the 62nd minute before Sydney pulled a goal back.
Thomas managed to save an effort from Ninkovic, but the midfielder pounced on the rebound to score from an angle.
Sydney almost levelled with 11 minutes remaining as Adam le Fondre’s looping header from a Zullo cross hit the crossbar.
Ivanovic then struck the outside of the post before substitute Kenny Athiu went close twice for Victory, his second chance seeing him denied by Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne from close range.
Kosta Barbarouses curled a strike over from the edge of the area in additional time as Victory saw out the final moments to claim three points.
Player in focus
What they said – Carl Valeri
on the game…
“We started off well and that was important to us. Sydney are a fantastic team, they’re full of great players, well-organised, and we knew they were going to come out fighting and I think we showed a lot of character towards the end there, stuck together. I thought we gave away a few too many chances, but we still held on and it shows our mentality of winning games.”
“We know Sydney are a good team, we know they’re going to shoot, they’re going to try and score goals, that’s what they’ve been doing for the last five years. They’ve got some great players, you saw their quality up front. Rather than looking at what we haven’t done well, we’ll probably try and build on the positives and what we did well because I thought that first half was really good and we try and build on that and make it last 65-70-80-90 minutes.”
Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Round 16
Melbourne Victory 2 (Ola Toivonen 20′, James Troisi 58′)
Sydney FC 1 (Milos Ninkovic 63′)
Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk); Roux (Lesiotis 88′), Deng, Broxham, Brown; Valeri (c); Antonis, Troisi, Baena (Kamsoba 60′); Barbarouses, Toivonen (Athiu 76′).
Sydney FC: Redmayne (gk); Calver, Wilkinson (c), Warland, Zullo; Retre (Lokolingoy 79′), Brillante, O’Neill, Ninkovic; De Silva (Ivanovic 53′), Le Fondre.
Yellow cards: Calver 29′, Le Fondre 46′, Zullo 70′, Troisi 89′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: AAMI Park
Victory’s next outing is a trip to the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, February 2.