Victory beaten at home


Melbourne Victory’s Hyundai A-League finals hopes are on a knife edge after they were beaten 3-1 by Newcastle Jets at a rain-soaked AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory’s Hyundai A-League finals hopes are on a knife edge after they were beaten 3-1 by Newcastle Jets at a rain-soaked AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Sitting eighth on the table, Victory went into the match needing the three points to stay in touch with the sixth-placed Jets but the defeat means they now find themselves eight points from finals contention with just three matches remaining.

Ryan Griffiths opened the scoring for the visitors in the 20th minute against the run of play, only for Harry Kewell to draw Victory level three minutes later from the spot.

But from there a double to teenager Jacob Pepper, the first of them his maiden goal in the A-League, put the Jets on track for a win they would go on to claim despite Kewell missing a second penalty before the break soon after Archie Thompson had been denied by the woodwork.

The win was Newcastle’s first on the road against Victory since 2007 at Etihad Stadium while Jim Magilton’s men saw their run of 15 matches unbeaten at home come to an end in front of 12,457 fans.

And the result was further compounded by the send off of Carlos Hernandez in the final 10 minutes after he picked up two second-half yellow cards for fouls on Sung-Hwan Byun.

Victory nearly opened the scoring after 11 minutes but Ben Kennedy did just enough to push Kewell’s 25m shot out for a corner.

Newcastle converted their first real chance of the game when Ruben Zadkovich crossed from the right and Tarek Elrich headed it on for Griffiths to get there first and cut it back into the bottom right corner.

Within minutes though Victory were back level from the spot through Kewell, who was fortunate to score when Kennedy almost got to the ball, the penalty coming after Tiago Calvano tugged on Ubay Luzardo’s jersey when he tried to reach Matthew Foschini’s cross.

The visitors regained the lead just before the half-hour mark though when Jobe Wheelhouse played a one-two with Griffiths and then cut the ball back from the byline for Pepper to bury his shot.

Thompson had a penalty shout waved away despite his shot appearing to hit the arm of Ben Kantarovski and six minutes before the break the Jets made it 3-1 when Zadkovich crossed to the heart of the box and Pepper was again in perfect position to score his second.

Veteran Matthew Kemp was replaced moments before the break by Leigh Broxham and the drama wasn’t over there as Thompson was denied by the woodwork and then Kewell was fouled from behind by Zadkovich and referee Jarred Gillett pointed to the spot.

But this time when Kewell stepped up he blasted his attempt well over the bar as he went for the top-left corner.

In the second half Newcastle were content to protect their lead but Victory did have their chances to narrow the gap, only to come up short.

Hernandez brought a long ball from Mark Milligan under control but then gave the ball to Kennedy when he tried to chip him, before Hernandez picked up his first card in the 66th minute.

Jean Carlos Solorzano was introduced in place of Thompson and gave Victory a spark, with only a fine save from Kennedy preventing him making it 3-2 when he directed his header on target from a Hernandez cross.

But then Hernandez was booked again in the 82nd minute and sent for an early shower.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Kewell 24p)
Newcastle Jets 3 (Griffiths 20, Pepper 29, 39)