Two late goals made all the difference as Melbourne Victory returned to the winners’ list with a 3-1 win against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Head coach Jeff Hopkins made three changes to his XI, as Casey Dumont, Amy Jackson and Maja Markovski were all brought into the lineup.
Catherine Zimmerman also made her long-awaited return to the match day squad, taking her place on the bench.
Victory started brightly, eager to make amends for last week’s defeat.
The home side got off to the perfect start, when a sweetly timed ball from Alex Chidiac played through Beattie Goad in the 5th minute.
The winger cooly put the chance away, taking Victory into an early lead.
The Wanderers did not take long to hit back though, as Sophie Harding used her pace to get in behind and finish into the far corner ten minutes later.
Victory continued to look dangerous following the equaliser, with Goad in particular regularly threatening from the left wing.
Chances fell to Lia Privitelli and Maja Markovski as the half drew to a close, but there was no way through for either side by the time the half-time whistle blew.
The second half started slowly, with both sides content to gradually work their way back into the game.
Hopkins turned to his bench 20 minutes into the half, as Catherine Zimmerman made her long-awaited return to action alongside Alana Murphy off the bench.
Chances though remained hard to come by, before Victory turned up the heat for the closing stages.
A sweetly struck Kayla Morrison free-kick was followed by a one-on-one chance for Zimmerman, but Jordyn Bloomer in the Wanderers’ goal did just enough to keep both efforts out.
Just a couple of minutes later though, Zimmerman was again involved when she was brought down in the penalty area, winning Victory a spot-kick with under 10 minutes remaining.
Chidiac stepped up to the spot and fired an unstoppable penalty in off the crossbar, as Victory reclaimed their lead.
The win was secured in the final minute of injury time, when Zimmerman again showed her quality with a run into the box, before teeing-up substitute Tiff Eliadis who made the score 3-1.
The two late goals proved decisive as Victory secured a vital three points against a high quality opposition.
With the game on the line, who better to step up for a spot-kick than Alex Chidiac?
Victory’s win combined with results from the concurrent fixtures means they now have an eight-point lead over Adelaide United in fifth, and are just six points behind league leaders Western United.
Liberty A-League 2022/23 Round 13
Melbourne Victory 3 (Goad 5′, Chidiac 82′ (pen), Eliadis 90+7′)
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Harding 15′)
Victory head north to take on Brisbane Roar at Perry Park next Saturday 11th February at 3:00pm AEDT.