A brace from Kosta Barbarouses helped Melbourne Victory make it back-to-back wins in the Hyundai A-League, beating the Western Sydney Wanderers 3-0 on Friday.
Barbarouses scored twice, including a brilliant late strike, and Besart Berisha also netted at ANZ Stadium.
The result followed Victory’s win against Perth Glory, lifting it into third on the table heading into the weekend.
Both teams made an energetic start to proceedings, with Victory going close when Leroy George fired a 20-yard effort straight at Vedran Janjetovic in the 11th minute.
However, most of the opening half-hour was played in the middle third as both sides struggled to create clear-cut chances.
That changed nine minutes before half-time as Barbarouses scored for the fifth time in seven games.
Berisha did wonderfully in the middle before releasing the New Zealand international, who finished clinically into the bottom corner.
The Wanderers almost levelled just prior to the interval, Oriol Riera hitting the crossbar with a volley after meeting a Steven Lustica corner.
Western Sydney thought it had equalised in the 49th minute, Riera tapping in from close range but seeing his strike correctly ruled out for offside.
Victory almost doubled its lead moments later, but Janjetovic kept out Berisha’s close-range effort after more good work by Barbarouses down the right.
Matt Acton made a fine save for Victory after Rhys Williams misdirected a header, while the visitors continued to look threatening on the counter-attack.
The Wanderers were also dangerous and Acton made another save to deny Riera, whose powerful effort from 20 yards was too close to the goalkeeper.
Victory would go 2-0 up as George and Berisha combined, the former providing his 11th assist of the season.
George brought down a Mark Milligan pass before twisting and turning, laying off for Berisha to finish for his seventh league goal of the campaign.
Victory almost sealed the result in the 76th minute, but Terry Antonis curled an effort just wide after being teed up by Berisha.
Acton was called into action twice as the shot-stopper made good saves to deny Kearyn Baccus and Chris Herd before Barbarouses made it 3-0.
The star attacker received a pass from Jai Ingham before unleashing a stunning effort into the top corner from 30 yards.
Player in focus
What they said – Berisha
on the performance…
“I believe he (head coach Kevin Muscat) is happy, I hope so, I’m not sure but the way he sounded and talked to me I think he’s very, very pleased with our performance. I thought the boys played amazingly and really I believe it was one of our best games and everybody played great, we fought and we want more, we want more. We are hungry and we came out very motivated and we wanted a positive performance and we did and I’m very happy with that.”
on his own form…
“I hear criticism and for me it’s very important I focus on my club and my team, try to be always ready and help my team and I try every week and sometimes I’m also a person, I miss opportunities, but I never give up, I’m always going to give 100 per cent and this is the type of striker I am. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I never give up and I’m happy today, I scored again and could help the team. For me, it’s very important I’m ready for my team-mates and fight for them and that’s the most important.”
Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Round 17
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Melbourne Victory 3 (Kosta Barbarouses 36’/90+2′, Besart Berisha 68′)
Western Sydney Wanderers: Janjetovic (gk), Risdon, Thwaite, Clisby, Llorente, Herd, Carrusca (Baccus 74′), Bonevacia (Santalab 74′), Lustica (Scott 64′), Riera, Bridge (c)
Melbourne Victory: Acton (gk), Geria, Broxham, Williams, Nigro (Deng 70′), Valeri (c), Milligan, Antonis, Barbarouses, Berisha (Ingham 86′), George (Theoharous 78′)
Yellow cards: Bridge 22′, Williams 26′, Risdon 28′, Herd 39′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Victory is back at home in Round 18, hosting Sydney FC in a blockbuster clash at AAMI Park on Australia Day. Tickets available here.