Victory go down to Wanderers


Melbourne Victory lost their second Hyundai A-League match in a row on Saturday night, succumbing 2-1 to a well-organised Western Sydney Wanderers outfit at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Victory lost their second Hyundai A-League match in a row on Saturday night, succumbing 2-1 to a well-organised Western Sydney Wanderers outfit at AAMI Park.

Despite Connor Pain’s late strike giving Victory hope, goals in either half to Iacopo La Rocca and Shinji Ono gave the Wanderers all three points as they notched their sixth win in succession.

Victory boss Ange Postecoglou made four changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Adelaide United last week, with new signing Daniel Mullen, who joined the club on loan from Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Aerbin during the week, making his debut.

Mullen slotted in at centre-back while Mark Milligan, returning from international duty, Diogo Ferreira and Andrew Nabbout also came in, replacing the suspended Adama Troare, injured Archie Thompson and dropped duo Jonathan Bru and Francesco Stella.

A crowd of more than 21,000 and a superb atmosphere greeted the players at AAMI Park and Victory started brightly, fashioning the game’s first chance after seven minutes.

Marcos Flores was the provider, supplying a neat through ball for Nabbout who rounded Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic but was unable to get a shot off with Jerome Polenz scrambling back to intercept for the visitors.

Western Sydney’s first chance ended up in the back of the net just moments later as Italian La Rocca found himself in the right spot at the right time.

Ono’s free-kick drifted in from the right and Victory captain Adrian Leijer, under close attention from Nikolai Topor-Stanley, could only divert the ball across the face of goal where La Rocca was on hand to poke home.

The Wanderers upped the tempo and pushed on after their goal, leading to a good spell of pressure with Mark Bridge, Dino Kresinger and Ono all having attempts, while at the other end, Flores wasted a good chance created by a Marco Rojas fast break with a heavy touch.

Victory began to work through the pressure of their opponents and gradually found themselves back in the game, with Milligan and Rojas having half-chances to level the scores before the break.

Just after half-time, Flores went close with a curling effort that was well held by Covic before Polenz again came up with a piece of quality last-ditch defending to deny a certain goal for Nabbout.

The forward charged into the box and appeared to only have Covic to beat from Rojas’ smart ball across the face of goal but the German’s desperate lunge proved critical.

The aftermath saw the Wanderers charge forward, with Leijer on hand to deny Kresinger with a smart tackle before the Victory skipper almost went from hero to villain.

A poor back pass from Leijer allowed Youssouf Hersi in but Coe was quick off his line to deny the livewire, while substitute Pain and Nabbout had efforts for Victory in response.

With 18 minutes remaining, Western Sydney grabbed a second goal after Hersi’s left-foot shot – which came after he cut inside and beat Scott Galloway – was parried by Coe into the path of Ono.

The Japanese star needed no second invitation, placing a calm left-foot finish into the corner to double the visitors’ advantage.

The two-goal buffer lasted a matter of minutes though, as Billy Celeski made the most of a Wanderers turnover in midfield with a great ball that released Pain down the left.

Pain showed terrific pace initially, before he held off the challenge of Polenz with strength and fired a left-foot finish past Covic and into the back of the net, via the base of the post, to set up an exciting conclusion.

But an equaliser was not forthcoming for Victory and the result leaves the third-placed club five points behind the second-placed Wanderers with six rounds remaining.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Pain 75)
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (La Rocca 11, Ono 72)
Crowd: 21,638 @ AAMI Park