VPL Report: Victory overcome North Geelong in five-goal thriller

Melbourne Victory made it back-to-back wins on Saturday afternoon, coming out on top in a thrilling contest against North Geelong Warriors.

Team News

Head Coach Joe Palatsides made 2 changes to the XI which defeated Eastern Lions 3-1 last week, as Luka Kolić returned to the XI whilst Austin Ganino made his first senior start of the season.


Having made the journey down the highway, Victory almost made the ideal start.

A brilliant cross from Austin Ganino picked out Tommaso Minutoli in the penalty area, but the finish flew narrowly wide of the post.

A missed chance early, but Victory were able to capitalise on their next opportunity a few minutes later.

A corner sent in by Kasey Bos was latched onto by Adem Duratović, who nailed the volleyed finish to give his team the lead just 7 minutes into the game.

Duratović continued to threaten throughout the first half, whilst Linus Bourke and Damien Bozinovski generally marshalled the defence well.

However, it was the hosts who would make the next major move, as the Warriors put together a strong passage of play which ended in an equaliser just before the half hour mark.

The Warriors continued to build on their momentum, hitting the crossbar a few minutes later, then having the ball in the back of the net, but the offside flag ensured scores remained level.

Having withstood a barrage of North Geelong attacks, Victory struck again just minutes before the break.

Alex Menelaou created the chance, winning the ball back in a dangerous position high up the pitch, before playing through Tommaso Minutoli who finished clinically inside the far post.

A goal at an ideal moment for Victory, arresting the Warriors’ momentum and allowing them to head into half-time with a narrow advantage.

The second half picked up where the first left off, with plenty of energy and attacking football right from the re-start.

The Warriors had their second equaliser early in the second 45, with a thumping finish at the near post following a corner.

Victory made a triple substitution soon after the hour mark, as George Karvounis, Nikolas Čevizović and Jack Mihailidis were brought into the action.

Alex Menelaou was one of the players replaced, having suffered a head injury whilst defending a corner.

Both teams had golden chances to claim the lead after the changes, with Minutoli striking the crossbar following a brilliant counter-attack orchestrated by Jesse Hoey and Bourke.

The next counter-attack though would lead to the vital goal.

Hoey was again involved, but this time perfectly teed-up Luka Kolić arriving on the edge of the penalty area, before the midfielder thundered the ball into the bottom corner.

Another superb attacking move, giving Victory the lead with 20 minutes remaining.

In the minutes that followed, Christian Siciliano made an excellent save to deny the quick response, before Duratović had the ball in the back of the net for a fourth time, but was called for offside just prior to the finish.

The hosts continued to threaten deep into the contest as they searched for a third equaliser.

However, the Victory defence remained steadfast, ultimately seeing out the remainder of the game to secure a thrilling 3-2 win.

A major challenge away from home, but Victory escaped with their second consecutive win.

Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts

On the performance…

“We knew that North Geelong had been performing well. During the course of the year, we’ve seen some of their games and they’ve been really unlucky.”

“We knew they’d be difficult today, especially at their home ground.”

“I was really happy with the way we started the game. I thought we played some really good football on a difficult pitch.”

“But North Geelong gradually came back into the game and we lost our way a bit.”

“But I was really proud of the effort from the boys. Even though we didn’t have one of our better games, we have to adapt to all situations and I thought we did that really well today.”

On the second goal…

“It was a real positive because we worked on our defensive press during the week.”

“The goal came from a forced turnover.”

“We score a lot of goals from our defensive pressure, so I was really pleased that the goal came from something we’ve been working really hard on.”

On Luka Kolić’s return…

“I was really pleased that he came back into the team and performed really well in a position he’s not as familiar with, playing as a second 6 next to Alex Menelaou.”

“I thought he did the job really well.”

“The goal he scored to win the goal was a testament to the class he’s shown throughout the year.”

“Hopefully Alex Menelaou will be back sooner rather than later. He copped that knock on the head. He’s a leader on and off the field so we’re hoping he won’t be out for too long.”

Next Up

Victory return to Epping Stadium next Sunday 23 June, where they will host Caroline Springs George Cross, kicking off at 3:00pm AEST.

VPL1 2024 Round 18

North Geelong Warriors 2

Melbourne Victory 3 (Duratović 7′, Minutoli 42′, Kolić 70′)

Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Christian Siciliano (GK), Dimi Palatsides, Linus Bourke, Damien Bozinovski, Kasey Bos, Alex Menelaou (c), Luka Kolić, Adem Duratović, Jesse Hoey, Austin Ganino, Tommaso Minutoli