Melbourne Victory has recorded a 1-0 win in the first of two Semi-Final legs against Western United on Tuesday night at AAMI Park.
Jake Brimmer was the hero of the evening, finding the top corner with a beautiful volley to take home the advantage in an otherwise tight affair ahead of Saturday’s second leg back at AAMI Park.
Ivan Kelava provided the highlight of the opening passages, diving to his right to make an important early save from a well delivered corner.
Chances were few and far between in the opening 20 minutes before Victory found their groove through Jake Brimmer, who found a charging Nick D’Agostino’s boot in the 23rd minute for their first real chance of the contest.
Jason Davidson and Brimmer tried their luck from distance shortly after, both efforts narrowly flying over the crossbar as Victory began to take control.
Western’s cries for a penalty were waved off after a Roderick Miranda bump in the 40th minute brought Wenzel-Halls to ground in the box.
Victory then wasted no time creating their own chance at the stroke of half-time when D’Agostino’s shot from a perfect Josh Brillante cross was blocked.
Heading into the sheds with 63% possession and seven attempts at goal to two, Victory seemed the more likely side to find the opener after the break in a tight affair.
But it was Western who threatened most to open the second half.
Ivan Kelava was forced into another save from a corner kick when Lacroix’s header found the target in the 63rd minute.
Then the moment came.
As the clock struck the 74th minute, Western United keeper Jamie Young cleared Jason Davidson’s corner out to a waiting Jake Brimmer, whose right-footed first-time volley beat the outstretched keeper’s arms and nestled its way into the top right corner, sending AAMI Park into raptures.
The strike was Brimmer’s third goal in three consecutive matches and his fifth across the last seven.
Victory’s league-leading defence, boosted by the return of Matt Spiranovic, managed to keep Western’s pursuits at bay in the final 15 minutes to secure the 1-0 advantage heading into Saturday.
Player in focus
Ivan Kelava‘s early save was vital in denying Western United any momentum to open the Semi-Finals and the Croatian shot-stopper maintained his strong form throughout the 90 minutes to keep a clean sheet.
The fan-favourite also had some fun post-match.
A draw or win in Saturday’s second leg will be enough to see Victory proceed to next Saturday’s Grand Final.
A one-goal loss will force extra-time and penalties if needed, while any larger defeat will end Victory’s campaign.
Away goals are not factored in to the aggregate scoreline across the two fixtures.
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 Semi-Final Leg One
Western United: 0
Melbourne Victory: 1 (Brimmer 74’)
Western United XI: Young, Risdon, Imai, Lacroix, Garuccio, Wales, Skotadis, Kilkenny, Pain, Wenzel-Halls, Prijovic
Melbourne Victory XI: Kelava, Geria, Spiranovic, Miranda, Davidson, Marchan, Brillante, Brimmer, Folami, D’Agostino, Rojas
Yellow cards: Brimmer, Pain, Risdon
Red cards: Nil
Venue: AAMI Park
Saturday’s Semi-Final Leg Two will be a Victory home game at AAMI Park kicking off at 5:15pm AEST.