Victory claim Big Blue


Melbourne Victory moved to second on the Hyundai A-League table thanks to a 3-1 win over rivals Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday.

Melbourne Victory moved to second on the Hyundai A-League table thanks to a 3-1 win over rivals Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday.

In front of a crowd of 26,882 fans on Australia Day, strikes from Marco Rojas, Archie Thompson and an own goal from Sydney FC’s Sebastian Ryall gave Victory a comfortable win.

Sydney FC – who had Brazilian defenders Tiago Calvano and Fabio sent off in the second half – pulled a late goal back through Joel Griffiths but it mattered little as Victory won again.

Victory boss Ange Postecoglou made two changes to the side that beat Perth Glory last week, with defender Nick Ansell and midfielder Billy Celeski introduced in place of Spase Dilevski and James Jeggo.

The hosts looked the brightest in a cagey beginning, with Mark Milligan and Leigh Broxham sending efforts wide before a desperate block from Sydney defender Rhyan Grant denied Rojas.

Rojas continued to cause problems, this time narrowly missing the target with his left foot but his early dominance was a taste of what was to come.

Sydney FC midfielder Brett Emerton slumped to the ground in the pain after 23 minutes and was substituted with a hamstring problem but before his replacement, Blake Powell, could make it on the pitch, the visitors had already conceded.

Rojas was the man behind the goal, with the Kiwi surging forward after being fed by Thompson just inside the Sydney half.

The winger was unchallenged until he approached the edge of the penalty area and his fierce strike beat Sydney FC goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic thanks to a big deflection from former Victory defender Ryall.

The home fans roared in approval and they were nearly on their feet again just moments later when Broxham’s curling 20-yard effort forced a smart save from Janjetovic.

Sydney slowed the game down and enjoyed a spell of pressure but a failure to come up with a genuine goal-scoring opportunity almost came back to bite them when Marcos Flores screwed an effort wide just before the break.

Neither side could get going in the early stages of the second half, with referee Chris Beath handing out six yellow cards in the first 20 minutes.

Of those cards, one was a second for Tiago, with the Brazilian given his marching orders for raising an arm at Broxham.

Sydney had a golden chance to equalise on 66 minutes but Joel Griffiths shot wide and less than 60 seconds later, Victory made them pay when they grabbed their second.

Celeski provided it, with his neat pass finding Thompson in the penalty area, and after taking a touch, the Socceroo dispatched his effort past Janjetovic and into the back of the net.

And the hosts added further polish to the scoreline with 18 minutes left when Rojas scored for the 11th time this season.

The goal was a reward for persistence – Rojas initially had a cross blocked by a Sydney defender but chased down the rebound – as the winger saw his 20-yard effort sail into the back of the net thanks to another deflection, this time from Adam Griffiths.

Sydney produced a quick response but Joel Griffiths’ strike was merely a consolation, with Grant wasting a chance to put pressure on Victory when his far-post header was straight at goalkeeper Nathan Coe.

In stoppage time Fabio, another former Victory player, was sent off for a second yellow card as the hosts celebrated a win that sees them move into second on the A-League table.

Melbourne Victory 3 (OG 24, Thompson 67, Rojas 72)
Sydney FC 1 (Griffiths 75)
Crowd: 26,882 at AAMI Park