Geelong Advertiser, Saturday 26 August 2006, p. 83.
Melbourne Victory opened its 2006 A-League season with a two-nil win against last year’s finalist Adelaide United in front of 15781 fans at Olympic Park last night.
Victory won a couple of free kicks in dangerous areas but could not penetrate the defensive wall.
Adrian Leijer picked up the ball at the back and set Archie Thompson clear down the right and the Socceroos’ driven cross was sliced on to his own cross-bar by Michael Valkanis.
In a rapid counter-attack Adelaide’s Socceroo wing-back Travis Dodd was clean through only to be denied by a dive at his feet by keeper Michael Theoklitos.
In seven previous games against Adelaide, the Victory had failed to score, but all that changed in 27 minutes when Brazilian winger Alessandro bamboozled Richard Alagich and the Adelaide full back brought him down.
Kevin Muscat, the Victory skipper, buried the spot kick and sent the Victory fans into raptures.
Thompson almost doubled the lead ten minutes later when he lifted the ball over keeper Robert Bajic, only for Robert Cornthwaite to lift the ball clear as Thompson endeavoured to head it into the empty net.
Adelaide missed the chance of the first half in 41 minutes when Aaron Goulding’s cross found Ross Aloisi with only the keeper to beat.
Somehow Theoklitos managed to push his shot away but only as far as Dodd who hit the side netting when it seemed easier to score. An offside flag probably would have resulted in a goal being disallowed in any case.
As the players left the field at half time there was a confrontation between skipper Muscat and Alessandro and the latter did not appear after the break, being replaced by Adrian Caceres. After the match, Ernie Merrick said he had planned to withdraw the Brazilian ten minutes before half-time.
Caceres threatened to unhinge the Adelaide backline with a couple of runs down the left but it was the visitor which had more of the play in the second half.
Angelo Costanzo and Brazilian Fernando Rech came on for Adelaide and for a while the Victory was stretched to hold on.
But then in a rare breakaway Costanzo stopped when he seemed to collect a stray elbow, but Victory’s Daniel Allsopp kept going and forced Bajic into a diving save, only for the ball to squirt out to substitute Claudinho who drove it low into the net.
That was in the 78th minute.
The Brazilian is due to become a father and celebrated by rocking an imaginary cradle.
Adelaide continued to create chances but Victory defenders threw their bodies into every gap while Claudinho lifted the seige with a couple of runs which almost brought a third goal.