Victory return to winning ways against Perth

Adama Traore’s stunning first-half strike and Gui Finkler’s late goal saw Melbourne Victory defeat Perth Glory 2-0 at AAMI Park in the A-League on Friday night.

Adama Traore’s stunning first-half strike and Gui Finkler’s late goal saw Melbourne Victory defeat Perth Glory 2-0 at AAMI Park in the A-League on Friday night.

Left-back Traore lashed home a vicious drive from long range in the 36th minute, one of the few highlights in something of a lacklustre contest, with substitute Finkler sealing the points with a minute remaining in normal time.

Victory’s first win in three games sees them climb to third place ahead of the rest of this weekend’s Round 10 action, while Perth remain seventh on the table and winless on the road in 2013-14.

For anyone who has seen Victory dominate possession but fail to make their chances count on numerous occasions this season, there would have been a strong sense of deja vu in the first half in Melbourne.

The home team controlled the play and were largely camped out in Perth’s defensive third, but were restricted to long shots from the likes of Mitch Nichols, Kosta Barbarouses and James Troisi, which rarely troubled Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.

It looked very much as if another night of frustration might be in store for the navy blue and white faithful, who began to implore their goal-shy players to pull the trigger at any opportunity.

Their prayers were answered nine minutes before half-time, when Nichols laid the ball back for advancing fullback Traore, who took one touch before lashing a dipping strike from outside the area past Vukovic at his near post. 

The Ivorian-born defender’s delightful effort proved to be an exception to the rule, and the same pattern of play resumed in the second half, with Victory probing but unable to force a second.

Perth meanwhile were forced to survive on scraps, although Pablo Contreras was called into action to impressive effect close to the hour mark, the Chilean centre-back executing an inch-perfect sliding tackle to prevent Jamie Maclaren going clean through on goal.

At the other end Barbarouses was involved in much of Victory’s best second-half work, the winger repeatedly cutting inside to shoot or reaching the byline to pull the ball back, only for Vukovic to make a save or Perth’s defence to effect a clearance.

The Glory wasted their best chance of the match in the 80th minute, when Ryan Edwards shot over the bar after seizing on a loose ball unmarked in the centre of the penalty box.

Less than a minute later, Maclaren smashed a well-taken half-volley at goal, forcing Nathan Coe to tip the ball over the bar at full stretch.

Any slim hopes Perth harboured of earning a share of the spoils were crushed in the 89th minute when Finkler was played in on goal by the quick feet of Troisi, the Brazilian dispatching a low shot past Vukovic to cap off a lively cameo.

In a side-plot to the game sure to concern the Victory board and administration, the club’s rebellious ‘North Terrace Collective’ left the match at half-time to demonstrate outside against perceived ill treatment at the hands of authorities, negotiations with the club over contentious security measures having broken down in the days leading up the game.

The absence of the Victory’s largest active supporter group made for a distinctly low-key atmosphere at what was previously one of the competition’s loudest venues.

That is not an issue for Kevin Muscat and his players however, whose attention will now turn to the derby against Melbourne Heart next Saturday, while Perth Glory have a chance to bounce back at home to Adelaide United a day later.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Traore 36′, Finkler 89′)
Perth Glory 0
Crowd: 17,008 @ AAMI Park