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Jan 30, 2010   |  4:31AM AET

Victory fall short

Victory fall short

Gold Coast has kept its top-two hopes alive and ended Melbourne’s three-game winning streak with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Victory at Skilled Park on Friday night.

Gold Coast has kept its top-two hopes alive and ended Melbourne’s three-game winning streak with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Victory at Skilled Park on Friday night.

After a spiteful first half, it was the home side which refocused best after the break – Dino Djulbic and Jason Culina combining to set up Zenon Caravella for his first Hyundai A-League goal in the 76th minute.

Djulbic streamed along the right side, crossed the ball back through the box where Culina back-heeled it into Caravella’s path.

The 26-year-old unleashed a brilliant strike which sizzled into the top left-hand corner of the net giving the diving Victory goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak no chance.

Gold Coast continued to attack as the minutes ticked away but Carlos Hernandez had a good chance to equalize in injury time.

He took a free kick from just outside the box but his attempt was poor and the ball scuttled along the pitch well wide of the target.

The result sees the Gold Coast draw level with Melbourne Victory on 44 competition points and United will finish the weekend in second spot if Sydney FC fail to beat Brisbane Roar on Saturday.

It was a disappointing performance by the Victory but the trip north, with the injured Archie Thompson watching from the stands, was always going to be tough after playing two games in the past week.

Both teams made a busy start to the contest with Gold Coast proving the more dangerous side in the opening stages.

In the second minute Caravella pulled the trigger from outside the box but was denied by Langerak who tipped the ball over the crossbar.

The Victory eventually settled and Tom Pondeljak and Hernandez threatened the goal at the other end from outside the box.

But the free-flowing play was brought to an abrupt halt when Steve Pantelidis and Robbie Kruse clashed off the ball.

Replays suggested the former Melbourne Victory player deliberately elbowed Kruse and the incident is sure to be reviewed by the league’s match review panel.

Kruse got his shoulder strapped and returned to the pitch after the incident but the pain proved too much and he was replaced in the 31st minute by Grant Brebner.

Pantelidis’ aggressive approach continued and he received a yellow card for his overzealous challenge on Marvin Angulo.

The incidents caused some friction among the teams but unfortunately it didn’t revive the standard of play.

There were a few anxious moments for the goalkeepers with Michael Thwaite and Hernandez attacking but neither did enough to break the deadlock.

Kevin Muscat kept the niggle alive with an elbow to Jason Culina’s cheekbone late in the half but both sides would have gone into the sheds to cool down and regroup.

Gold Coast was switched on early in the second half and dominated possession. It had several set pieces which kept Langerak on his toes.

The Victory earned a couple of corners too but were less threatening and the busy schedule of the past week appeared to be taking its toll.

Gold Coast United 1 (Caravella 76)
Melbourne Victory 0
Crowd: 7249 at Skilled Park