Victory crush Fury

Melbourne Victory put a four-match winless run behind them with a comprehensive 3-0 win against North Queensland Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Wednesday night.

Melbourne Victory put a four-match winless run behind them with a comprehensive 3-0 win against North Queensland Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Wednesday night.

But the victory was soured by a serious injury to Billy Celeski, who could be sidelined for the rest of the season after reportedly tearing his groin in the final minutes of regulation time.

Danny Allsopp was on hand to put Victory ahead in the 27th minute, and substitute striker Mate Dugandzic nabbed a double midway through the second half to bury the lowly Fury.

It was end-to-end stuff early in Townsville as both sides pressed for the opening goal.

Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic stood firm to cut off a David Williams missile from the edge of the box, while at the other end Billy Celeski found himself one out with Justin Pasfield but could not push his shot wide of the Fury custodian.

Fury showed they were keen to test Petkovic from long range, with Williams chipping one over the bar from well outside the area in the 12th minute.

Allsopp was looking dangerous deep in attack and made the most of a terrific pass from Tom Pondeljak to put Victory ahead in the 27th minute.

Hernandez sent a through ball down the left side of the area for Pondeljak, who pulled it back at the touchline and whipped a cross back for Allsopp to tap into the roof of the net.

Wiliams missed an opportunity to set up Fury’s equaliser soon after when he blazed over the bar from the right, with Isaka Cernak in position for the cross.

Coach Ernie Merrick, sensing Fury’s pace was troubling his defenders, brought off Marvin Angulo and injected some extra leg speed in the form of Matthew Foscini on the half hour.

Victory were pressured but up to the challenge, with Diogo Ferreira getting a clearing kick to a laser cross intended for Cernak and Petkovic doing well to avoid giving away a penalty stripping the ball from Cernak moments later.

The Victory custodian was brilliant and proved the difference early in the second half as North Queensland stepped up the attack, coming off his line to intercept Williams’ cross for Chris Payne in the 49th minute and diving to his right to push Cernak’s attempt just wide of the post.

Cernak, who will join Victory next season, was lively in the second half and looked Fury’s best chance of recording an equaliser.

Merrick made another change in the 62nd minute, bringing on Dugandzic for Carlos Hernandez, and the young striker repaid his coach’s faith with two quick goals.

First, the 21-year-old nodded in from the edge of the six-yard box in the 68th minute after Pasfield erred in punching Celeski’s corner kick high into the air.

Five minutes later, Dugandzic bobbled a long-range cross on his knee into the area, took Pasfield on a sprint to the right then turned and swept a low ball back inside the left post.

Fury had their best chance of the game 12 minutes from stoppage time after Petkovic came off his line to halt Williams’ run into the area.

The keeper got his hand to the ball but it spilled wide to Chris Grossman, who tapped wide of the empty net.

Victory went down to 10 men without Celeski, who was pulled from the pitch in the dying minutes, and Williams had one last opportunity to make amends for his earlier misses but could not convert from close range.

Dugandzic nearly had a hat-trick in the 92nd minute only for Pasfield to parry away his skidding shot, with the rebound falling for Ferreira who should have done better than hitting the crossbar.

North Queensland Fury 0
Melbourne Victory 3 (Allsopp 25, Dugandzic 68, 73)
Crowd 4093 at Dairy Farmers Stadium