VPL Report: Victory return to winning ways

Melbourne Victory claimed a significant win on Sunday afternoon, putting three past Eastern Lions to return to the winners’ list.

Team News

Head Coach Joe Palatsides made 2 changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Bentleigh Greens, as Linus Bourke and Adem Duratović each made their return to the starting XI.


A cold and wet afternoon made for difficult conditions, as both teams came into the game with plenty on the line.

Victory were aiming to return to the winners’ circle after four weeks without a win.

Fortunately, Joe Palatsides’ team could hardly have started the game better.

Two goals in the first 20 minutes put Victory in a superb position right from the start.

First, a brilliant cross from Marc Petheriotis picked out Tommaso Minutoli at the far post, who executed a simple finish to give his side the lead.

Then, just a couple of minutes later, a Jesse Hoey pass put Adem Duratović in behind the Lions’ defence, before the striker finished cleverly into the roof of the net with a sliding strike.

2-0 ahead early in the contest, Victory had put themselves in prime position to claim the three points.

The remainder of the half was an even affair, with both sides having chances to score the crucial next goal.

Christian Siciliano made a sensational save in the final minutes of the half, redirecting the shot onto the crossbar and away from the goal.

When the half-time whistle blew, Victory’s 2-0 lead remained intact.

The best chance early in the second half fell the way of Eastern, who were only denied the goal by a remarkable goal-line clearance from Dimi Palatsides.

Jack Mihailidis and Austin Ganino were both substituted into the game after the hour mark, as Victory looked to solidify their position.

Mihailidis almost scored Victory’s third, after getting on the end of an excellent counter-attack initiated by Jordi Valadon, but the substitute was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The hosts made the most of their lifeline, halving the deficit in the 69th minute to ensure a tense finish to the contest.

The Victory defence was forced to scramble at various points in the final 20 minutes, but remained steadfast in keeping the Lions’ attack at bay.

The resolute defending was eventually rewarded at the other end of the pitch, when a stoppage time run down the right wing from Linus Bourke led to a cross to Hoey, who controlled the ball expertly before finishing off the chance.

A huge three points for Victory, who return to the winners’ circle and extend their lead on top of the VPL1 ladder.

Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts

On getting the win…

“It was good.”

“Tricky conditions, tricky pitch, wet weather. All of that adds up to a really tough game against a team that are battling for survival.”

“Very happy with the win at the end of the day.”

On the defensive acts throughout the game…

“It was good to see some of the things that we worked on during the week come to fruition.”

“Those two goals early on came from training ground moves.”

“But then it was about being resilient in the second half.”

“Being able to make those last-ditch efforts to make sure that they don’t score. At the end of the day, that’s what gets you the points.”

“It was a really good performance at both ends of the pitch.”

On Austin Ganino’s return in recent weeks…

“Austin has been really diligent after an ACL injury.”

“To be honest, I thought he would have played more games in the under 21’s before we called him up, but he’s been really impressive and was really putting his hand up to be included.”

“Today he made an impact coming off the bench and he’s getting closer to a start.”

Next Up

Victory will make the long journey to Geelong next weekend, as they head to Elcho Park to take on North Geelong Warriors on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm AEST.

VPL1 2024 Round 17

Eastern Lions 1

Melbourne Victory 3 (Minutoli 18′, Duratović 20′, Hoey 90+3′)

Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Christian Siciliano (GK), Dimi Palatsides, Linus Bourke, Damien Bozinovski, Kasey Bos, Alex Menelaou (c), Jordi Valadon, Adem Duratović, Jesse Hoey, Marc Petheriotis, Tommaso Minutoli