Victory hang tough for win

Ten-man Melbourne has secured three points with a 1-0 win over fierce rival Adelaide in a fiery contest at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

Ten-man Melbourne has secured three points with a 1-0 win over fierce rival Adelaide in a fiery contest at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

Victory was able to extend its impressive opening to the Hyundai A-League campaign courtesy of a Kevin Muscat goal just after the hour mark.

The skipper knocked home the rebound from his saved penalty, won by Archie Thompson, to give the league leaders their most spirited success of the season to date in front of 24,812 spectators.

The only negative on the night for the hosts was the sending off of striker Ney Fabiano in the first half of a match that drew five cards from referee Matthew Breeze.

Coach Ernie Merrick was pleased to get a win in what he declared his team’s toughest match of the season so far.

“I thought all round it was a tremendous Victory performance,” the delighted boss said post-match.

“We have been talking performance being a combination of skill and effort and I thought it was 100 percent on both counts tonight.”

“Our boys not only prevented them (Adelaide) from getting shots on goal, we kept playing football, even with 10 players in the second half.”

Victory opted to start quartet Thompson, Ney Fabiano, Danny Allsopp and Carlos Hernandez, a clear attacking announcement from coach Ernie Merrick.

It didn’t take long for the lethal combination to click into gear when the slick Fabiano-Thompson partnership threaded a ball into the path of Evan Berger. The youngster arrived on time but off balance and the opportunity fizzled.

The visitors began to get on the ball with more regularity after a quarter of an hour and had chances, the best Sasa Ogenovski’s humming shot from a loose ball in the area.

After six minutes of Victory domination – the locals had 80 percent of possession between the 16th and 22nd minute – Thompson fed a slick ball to the omnipresent Berger wide on the left. The youngster’s searing cross, however, whizzed out of reach of the charging forwards.

Shortly after, one of the best chances of the half came when Ney Fabiano put Allsopp through clear on goal. The powerful striker scuffed a shot that the goalkeeper had no issue gathering.

That was to be Fabiano’s final act of the evening. He was given his marching orders by Breeze on 29 minutes after a confrontation with United defender Robbie Cornthwaite.

Five minutes later, Hernandez sparked a lagging Victory with a dipping shot from 30 yards which had Galekovic beaten; the back-pedalling keeper spared blushes by the bar.

Victory closed the better of the two sides and Hernandez was at the heart of another great chance. His whipped cross fell to Thompson and the newly re-signed front man forced Galekovic into a reflex save with his point-blank toe-poke.

But Melbourne headed into the break deadlocked thanks to a fine save from Michael Theoklitos on the stroke of half-time.

And it looked to stay that way until Thompson forced the Adelaide defence into panic, drawing a penalty against former Queensland defender Ogenovski in the 62nd minute.

The dancing No.10 ducked and weaved with his back to goal in the box and the Reds’ cover, namely Ogenovski, tugged on his shirt. Breeze had no hesitation pointing to the spot.

The usually reliable Muscat stepped up and went right with his spot-kick, but so too did Galekovic. The ball rebounded back into the Melbourne skipper’s path and he coolly tapped home to give his side the advantage.

Hernandez sent another thunderbolt at goal in the wake of the night’s opening score before making way for comeback kid Grant Brebner just shy of 70 minutes.

The Scot and his team-mates stood firm and had the better chances of the closing stages but would have been pleased to get away with full points.

Melbourne Victory 1 (Muscat 63)
Adelaide United 0
Crowd: 24,812