Victory returns to the top

Melbourne Victory has returned to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder after defeating Queensland Roar 2-1 at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

Melbourne Victory has returned to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder after defeating Queensland Roar 2-1 at Telstra Dome on Friday night.

There were no goals in a dour first 45 minutes, but things certainly brightened up after the break as first Danny Allsopp and then Rody Vargas struck to give the home side a handy two-goal cushion.

Roar skipper Craig Moore got one back for the visitors with 16 minutes remaining, but Victory-s defence held firm in the closing stages as the home crowd of 23,477 left the ground in a jovial mood.

Queensland looked the better side early on in proceedings with Sergio van Dijk a constant threat in the final third, but he couldn-t trouble Michael Theoklitos in goal.

With Carlos Hernandez given room in the middle of the pitch, Victory started to work their way into the contest and he found Archie Thompson in the box on two occasions, but the livewire striker couldn-t connect with his header.

Seemingly frustrated at the lack of goal scoring opportunities that his side was producing, Victory coach Ernie Merrick decided to liven things up a little just after the half hour mark by making an early substitution.

Nick Ward – who scored a tremendous goal last week against Sydney FC – was brought on for Evan Berger and the move almost paid immediate dividends.

Ward won plenty of the ball in midfield and he combined with Hernandez to help put Thompson in a scoring position right on the stroke of half-time.

Thompson couldn-t quite connect with his deft touch as the teams went into the break still without a goal.

It didn-t take long for the action to hot up in the second half as Melbourne continually peppered the Roar defence down the right and it soon came to fruition.

Just 10 minutes in, Hernandez made a break down the right and found Thompson with a lovely ball, before he crossed perfectly for Allsopp straight in front of goal.

Allsopp prodded the ball past Liam Reddy to score his ninth goal of the season and it wasn-t too long before that advantage was doubled.

On 67 minutes, Ward won a free kick in the final third of the pitch and Hernandez floated in a terrific ball that found Vargas unmarked with just Reddy to beat.

With his back towards goal, Vargas produced a tremendous back-header that sailed into the net as Victory opened up a 2-0 lead with a little over 20 minutes to play.

Hernandez had a chance to seal the contest just moments later, but the visitors scored against the run of play to set-up a grandstand finish.

Moore headed home a Matt McKay corner after 74 minutes and had a great opportunity to pinch a point from Victory right at the death.

Mitch Nichols produced a powerful strike from outside the box that was sailing into the corner of the net, but Theoklitos produced a world class save that ensured Victory picked up all three points.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Allsopp 55, Vargas 67)
Queensland Roar 1 (Moore 74)
Crowd: 23,447 at Telstra Dome