Victory ease past Phoenix


Melbourne Victory are up to third spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder after they defeated Wellington Phoenix 2-0 in front of 18,609 fans at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory are up to third spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder after they defeated Wellington Phoenix 2-0 in front of 18,609 fans at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Goals from Marcos Flores and Marco Rojas either side of half-time were enough to seal the result which saw Victory, who have now won three of their last four matches, move to within three points of the top two.

Flores opened Victory’s account in the 43rd minute when he collected a Rojas cross from the left, which deflected off Spase Dilevski’s head, and drilled it past Phoenix goalkeeper Griffin McMaster to give Victory the lead.

And Rojas turned from provider to scorer seven minutes after half-time when he calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net on a slight angle from close range after collecting the rebound from Adrian Leijer’s shot which hit the left post.

Wellington’s defence struggled for most of the night to contain the creativity and effectiveness of attacking trio Rojas, Flores and Archie Thompson while Adama Traore, Mark Milligan and Billy Celeski were rock solid in defensive roles.

And the hosts appeared to be barely affected by the loss of Gui Finkler (knee) in a dominant performance which saw them have 14 shots on goal to the Phoenix’s six.

Victory started the match with far more energy than the Phoenix and created a string of attacking forays early on with the first chance of the match falling to Celeski who had a crack from outside the box in the seventh minute which timidly rolled out for a goal kick.

Five minutes later the visitors had their first shot on goal when Leo Bertos attempted an ambitious shot from 30 yards which was comfortably accepted by Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe.

Victory dominated possession for most of the first half and in the 21st minute could have produced one of the team goals of the season.

An under-pressure Flores delightfully used the outside of his boot to pass to Thompson who, from the top of the 18-yard box, headed precisely onto a solo Rojas in the right channel.

But after a skilful first touch, Rojas’ shot on goal didn’t threaten McMaster at all.

It took until the 30th minute for the first decent chance of the match to arise and it was the Phoenix who produced it against the run of play when Stein Huysegems blasted the ball from just inside the penalty area down the left but Coe was more than up to the task.

The rest of the first half was dominated by a string of Victory chances on goal, the majority of which frustratingly went by the wayside.

In the 37th minute, an under-pressure Thompson failed to convert from inside the six-yard box and a minute later Flores appeared to be in two minds when, in space, he decided to pass it off from the edge of the area instead of pulling the trigger.

But Flores made up for it in the 43rd minute when he put Victory up by a goal.

Ange Postecoglou’s men doubled their lead seven minutes after the break when Rojas also found the back of the net.

And Milligan almost extended Victory’s advantage in spectacular fashion in the 62nd minute when he unleashed a bullet from outside the penalty area that beat McMaster but cruelly hit the left post and went out for a goal kick.

Milligan tried his luck again four minutes later with a superb curling effort from 18 yards that agonisingly went the wrong side of the right post.

Victory had another gilt-edged chance in the 71st minute when Rojas delivered a brilliant through ball to Thompson in the area at speed but the veteran could only manage to dribble it past the left post.

Traore had a chance to cap off an impressive defensive performance with a goal in the 73rd minute when he evaded two Phoenix defenders down the left but his shot was also off target.

Wellington’s first decent chance of the second period came in the 86th minute when Cameron Lindsay unloaded from 12 yards but Coe parried it away to ensure the hosts’ maintained their clean sheet and earned their fifth win in a row against the Phoenix.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Flores 43, Rojas 52)
Wellington Phoenix 0
Crowd: 18,609 at AAMI Park