Skippers in opposition. Victory’s Adrian Leijer closes down Georgios Samaras of Celtic.
Melbourne Victory 0 Celtic 1
Melbourne Victory lost by a single goal to Celtic on Wednesday night at AAMI Stadium as both teams geared up for their new seasons.
Both were close to full strength, though Victory omitted Carlos Hernandez as a disciplinary measure following his late return from a trial in the United States.
Celtic had skipper Scott Brown on the bench and Georgios Samaras wore the armband in the hope of drawing out the local Greek support.
The visitors started briskly and when Leigh Broxham gave away a free kick on the edge of the area, Celtic had its first chance, but Kris Commons’ effort was blocked by the wall.
Marko Rojas looked very lively on the left flank for Victory on his debut and won a several early encounters with the Celtic full backs on either flank.
Tando Velaphi had an outatanding game in goal for Victory including a double save from Paddy McCourt and Samaras, and Broxham dug out a clearance to prevent a third strike.
In 36 minutes Victory had a good claim for a penalty when Adam Matthews appeared to handle the ball, but Diego Ferreira’s protests were a bit too much for referee Ben Williams who booked the young defender.
As the first half drew to a close, Celtic had three good half-chances but Ki put one well over the top, Rodrigo Vargas saved a Commons’ shot at the expense of a corner and Samaras was denied once again by Velaphi.
The first half had begun to look like a pre-season game after its bright start, though some of the Victory short passing was excellent. Celtic lacked a cutting edge, which could be a problem when their league begins next week.
At the interval young Petar Franjic, who has been selected for the Young Socceroos, came on for Vargas and Jean Carlos Solorzano replaced Tom Pondeljak, with Danny Allsopp dropping deeper to accommodate Solorzano.
Victory skipper Adrian Leijer was booked for a foul on Beram Kayal and Tom Mulgrew’s fiercely struck kick was pushed over the bar by the alert Velaphi.
At the other end Victory should have taken the lead when Rojas put over a delightful driven cross after a run down the wing and Solorzano slid in to send the ball wide of the post.
Mulgrew replied with a free kick for Celtic which eluded everyone and skidded across the goal area and wide.
Billy Celeski replaced the excellent Grant Brebner who had a fine game at the fulcrum of the midfield against his countrymen.
It looked like Kayal suffered a broken nose and he was replaced by Celtic’s regular skipper Scott Brown who had a remit to inject some urgency in midfield.
But it was Victory which came close once again as Danny Allsopp set up Archie Thompson, but the Socceroo striker miscued and the ball scraped past the post once again.
Anthony Stokes replaced Paddy McCourt and Celtic finally got the breakthrough with only 12 minutes left.
Celtic got a corner on the right and Commons looked up and rolled it into the path of the advancing Brown.
The substitute hit the ball hard, but it was a deflection on the way which took the ball past Velaphi and his defenders. Celtic had been the better team but the gap between the sides was not all that great to that point.
Both coaches expressed themselves very pleased both by the effort and the skill of their players this early in their preparations.
Victory remained mobile and inventive till very near the end, when the legs got heavier, while Celtic upped the tempo once Brown got into action.
It was clear that this was a pre-season game but the fans were entertained and the attendance of 20,000 for a midweek game on a dreich night was respectable.
Match details (unofficial)
Melbourne Victory 0 Celtic 1 (Scott Brown 78’)
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 7:30pm
Referee Ben WILLIAMS
Assistant Referees Hakan ANAZ and Luke BRENNAN
Fourth Official Kevin DOCHERTY
Melbourne Victory: 1 Tando VELAPHI, 2 Matthew FOSCHINI, 6 Leigh BROXHAM, 8 Grant BREBNER (14 Billy CELESKI 56’), 10 Archie THOMPSON (17 Jimmy JEGGO 76’), 11 Marko ROJAS (25 Luke O’DEA 86’), 12 Rodrigo VARGAS (4 Petar FRANJIC 46’), 13 Diogo FERRIERA, 15 Tom PONDELJAK (9 Jean Carlos SOLORZANO 46’), 18 Danny ALLSOPP (5 Dado LOKVANCIC 82’), 23 Adrian LEIJER
Substitutes not used: 20 Rani DOWISHA, 26 Nick ANSELL
Yellow cards: Diogo FERRIERA 36’, Adrian LEIJER 47’, Leigh BROXHAM 80’
Red cards: Nil.
Celtic: 24 Lukasz ZALUSKA, 2 Adam MATTHEWS (11 Cha BUM KOON 79’), 5 Daniel MAJSTOROVIC, 15 Kris COMMONS, 17 Kelvin WILSON (16 Joe LEDLEY 73’), 18 KI, 20 Paddy MCCOURT (10 Anthony STOKES), 21 Thomas MULGREW, 9 Georgios SAMARAS, 33 Beram KAYAL (8 Scott BROWN 60’), 88 Gary HOOPER (27 Daryl MURPHY 79’),
Substitutes not used: 31 Richie TOWELL
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil.