Victory fall to Roar


Harry Kewell’s first A-League goal from open play was not enough to prevent the Melbourne Victory from slumping to 3-1 defeat to a rampant Brisbane Roar on Friday night.

Harry Kewell’s first A-League goal from open play was not enough to prevent the Melbourne Victory from slumping to 3-1 defeat to a rampant Brisbane Roar on Friday night.

Marquee signing Kewell gave the visitors a perfect start at Suncorp Stadium with a well-taken goal in the opening stages, but the Victory were largely spectators from that point on as the Roar executed their breathtaking passing game to end a run of five consecutive losses.

A Mitch Nichols equaliser on the cusp of half-time set the tone for a second half completely dominated by Ange Posticoglou’s men, who added strikes from Rocky Visconte and Ivan Franjic to move within three points of A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners.

Melbourne meanwhile remain in the top six despite a second successive defeat, but only by a thread as the resurgent Adelaide United are only one point adrift of Mehmet Durakovic’s side.

The game started at a frantic pace and Victory took the lead within three minutes thanks to a swift counter and moment of individual brilliance from Kewell.

After Besart Berisha forced Ante Covic into the first save of the match, the visitors countered and caught the Roar defence out of position as Kewell cut in from the right and rifled a shot past Michael Theoklitos.

Brisbane burst forward immediately from the restart and almost had an equaliser when Franjic cut a pass back to Shane Stefanutto, whose close-range shot cannoned into the crossbar.

In a high-tempo first half, the Roar produced fluent, free-flowing football but could seldom get in behind the Victory defence and had to resort to shots from distance.

Such was the case when a neat exchange between the busy Franjic and Nichols resulted in the latter firing a shot from outside the penalty area at Covic, while Erik Paartalu’s stinging drive also sailed just over.

The Victory opted to soak up the pressure and thrust forward on the counter, a tactic that almost paid dividends in the 25th minute only for Theoklitos to charge off his line and deny the onrushing Archie Thompson.

After doing so well to absorb the Roar’s pressure without being hurt a scoreboard, the Victory conceded late in the first half when Stefanutto’s precise cross found Nichols, whose delightful diving header sailed past the outstretched arm of Covic.

The second period started in the same vein as the first ended with the Roar dominating possession and Melbourne struggling to produce any passing exchanges of their own.

The pressure eventually wore the visitors down when Berisha slid in a ball through to Visconte, who finished calmly for a 2-1 advantage after 49 minutes.

The signs were ominous for the Victory as the Roar seemed to find the groove which had gone missing in the past month, with the hosts easily finding space and time on the ball and soon extending their advantage.

Berisha would be provider once again, this time threading a ball to the overlapping Franjic on the right, with the Roar full-back making no mistake from close range.

A rare foray onto the Brisbane goal then saw the anonymous Carlos Hernandez feed Thompson who could only shoot straight at Theoklitos, as the Victory began to show signs of a second-half rearguard.

But Berisha’s attacking nous continued to cause the visitors headaches in their final third as the Albanian almost added another assist to his tally when he found the galloping Stefanutto only for desperate Victory defending to prevent another goal.

The Victory found showed some attacking instinct late on with Thompson forcing a pair of smart saves from Theoklitos, but it would prove not enough to prevent the Roar to return to winning ways.

Brisbane Roar 3 (Mitch Nichols 43, Rocky Visconte 49, Ivan Franjic 52)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Harry Kewell 3)
Crowd: 14,852 at Suncorp Stadium