Victory suffers first loss

A stubborn Melbourne Victory has lost for the first time in the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season, downed 2-0 by Queensland Roar at Telstra Dome on Sunday evening.

A stubborn Melbourne Victory has lost for the first time in the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season, downed 2-0 by Queensland Roar at Telstra Dome on Sunday evening.

Roar substitute Tahj Minniecon netted in the 83rd minute and another Frank Farina introduction, Michael Zullo, doubled the advantage with the final kick of the game to secure maximum points for the visitors in front of 22,266 fans.

Melbourne, reduced to 10 men when midfielder Carlos Hernandez was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 58th minute, battled gamely against the odds but succumbed in the final 10 minutes.

Victory remains equal top of the table, level with Sydney on points and goal difference.

Merrick kept his cool after the game, admitting playing with 10 men for a large chunk of the match for the third straight week had taken its toll.

“You can’t always play 90 minutes of quality football,” he said.

“I would say that Queensland were the better team in the first half, they pressured us really well and forced us to play the ball back a lot more than we would normally.”

“We couldn’t get into the rhythm of clever inter-passing moving forward.”

“In the second half we changed our formation a little bit … and we started to really come into the game.”

“Even when we got a send-off I thought we played some of our best football.”

The opening 10 minutes were memorable only for the high number of misguided passes and lack of chances.

Danny Tiatto, the Queensland hardman, was given a stern talking to but there was little else to report.

Mitchell Langerak, standing in for the suspended Michael Theoklitos, had little work, nor did his opposing number Liam Reddy.

The best chance of the opening quarter of an hour came for the Roar. Charlie Miller met Reinaldo’s dangerous floating cross on the volley, but his fierce shot soared over Langerak’s bar.

Ten more minutes floated by before Miller was at the heart of his side’s second golden chance, this time turning provider.

The powerfully-built No.10 surged down the right side before spearing a lateral ball into the path of Serginho van Dijk. He trapped the pass cleanly, swung onto his left boot, but sent his attempt skimming the outside of the post.

Langerak’s day got busier in the 36th minute when a clever flick from Miller put Reinaldo one-on-one with the keeper, but the 20-year-old charged out and blocked the striker’s shot with his left leg.

His bar was the saviour a minute later when van Dijk met a whipped free-kick and crashed a header into the woodwork.

Matthew Kemp made way for Evan Berger at half-time and defender Michael Thwaite lasted a further 10 minutes before Tom Pondeljak stepped in for him.

The changing nature of the Victory line-up continued. This time, however, it wasn’t Ernie Merrick’s decision with skilled midfielder Hernandez dismissed.

As it has done in recent weeks, a send-off sparked Melbourne.

Some sharp work down the wing from Berger and slick linking with Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp opened the Roar defence on the hour. In the 68th minute Berger’s pace was again at the forefront when he raced into space and skidded a shot wide.

The game had opened up. At the other end a desperate Kevin Muscat halted van Dijk as he closed in on Langerak’s goal. The skipper’s last-ditch tackle, just metres from his own goal, denied what looked a certain opener.

Reddy performed some game-saving heroics of his own just moments later when he blocked Grant Brebner’s attempt to break the deadlock.

The home team’s resistance finally wilted in the 83rd minute. Minniecon rounded the Victory cover and calmly tucked the ball in the bottom right-hand corner to hand Frank Farina’s side three points.

Youngster Zullo iced the cake with a smooth finish, holding off Muscat and dribbling the ball by a helpless Langerak in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Melbourne Victory 0 Queensland Roar 2 (Minniecon ’83, Zullo ’90+5)
Sunday, 28 September 2008
Telstra Dome, Melbourne
Ben Williams
Crowd: 22,266

Victory memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are currently available from the Victory Shop, 236 Swan Street, Richmond, by calling 1300 GO MVFC or online by clicking here.