Melbourne Victory 2 Los Angeles Galaxy 2 (Galaxy 4-3 on penalties)
Friendly tour matches, even with a sponsor’s trophy, are always more about entertaining occasional fans than satisfying the true believers and so it was when the Los Angeles Galaxy came to town on Tuesday night.
After 90 mins, Galaxy had pegged back Melbourne Victory’s two-nil lead thanks to two of the softest penalties, both converted by Irish star Robbie Keane.
So they had a penalty shoot-out at the end, and again Victory gained and then lost a two-goal lead, eventually going down by four goals to three.
In the early stages of the first half Galaxy players were feeling the effects of two games in humid conditions in Indonesis and the Phillipines.
Both had been won by six goals to one and in the second match every starting player was replaced within the 90 minutes but both coach Bruce Arena and superstar David Beckham said the players were feeling tired.
So Victory had the better of the first phase of the game with Grant Brebner, a former colleague of Beckham at Manchester United, pulling the strings in midfield and Isaka Cernak relishing the lack of severe physical pressure to play his best game in Victory colours.
In the 14th minute, Beckham found himself in the clear just inside his own half and tried to chip Ante Covic with a replica of the goal he scored for Manchester United against Neil Sullivan in the Wimbledon goal in 1996.
This time the shot just drifted wide at the last minute with the keeper caught well off his line.
Victory went ahead in 16 minutes when Carlos Hernandez latched on the rebound from a blocked shot by Cernak. The Costa Rican’s own effort was also stopped but he put the loose ball away at the second attempt.
Adam Cristman had a chance to equalize from a trademark Beckham cross but directed his header wide of the post.
In 37 minutes Grant Brebner found Hernandez in space and he slotted the ball between two defenders for Cernak to squeeze it through the legs of Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders.
Three minutes later Galaxy got the first of two penalty kicks Chris Birchall’s shot hit the arm of Victory defender Matthew Foschini.
Robbie Keane stopped in his run up and should have been made to retake his successful penalty kick.
Archie Thompson released Danny Allsopp just on the stroke of half-time, but the striker put the ball over the bar.
Both teams made a swag of changes at half-time and continued to replace players through the second period, so the match lost focus and Galaxy had much more of the play.
Five minutes after the break Petar Franjic was adjudged to have brought down Beckham, but the initial contact seemed to be slight and outside the penalty area.
Nevertheless a spot kick it was and Keane repeated his success with the first, and in the same fashion.
Both sides had chances in the later part of the game, but eventually the crowd got tired of the lack of action and the continual change of personnel and indulged themselves with a series of Mexican waves which continued until Beckham limped off after tweaking the hamstring which he injured in the final Galaxy match which gave them the Major League title.
Beckham got the deserved ovation when he left the field.
In the penalty shoot out, Rodrigo Vargas, Jimmy Jeggo and Tom Ponderljak scored for Victory, but Paolo Retre and Marko Rojas missed.
Landon Donovan missed the first for Galaxy but Hector Jiminez, Gregg Berhalter, Michael Stephens and Paolo Cardozo all scored.
The lower level seats were brought forward at Etihad and the crowd of 34,608 was very reasonable given the ticket prices for the match.
Match details (unofficial)
Melbourne Victory 2 (16 Carlos Hernandez 16, 19 Isaka Cernak 37’) Los Angeles Galaxy 2 (Robbie Keane 40’, 50’)
Date: 6 December 2011
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant referees: Shaun Evans and George Lackrinidis
Fourth official: Lucien Lvaerdure.
21 Ante Covic (Lawrence Thomas 46’), 2 Matthew Foschini (27 Paulo Retre 69’), 8 Grant Brebner (17 James Jeggo 58’), 10 Archie Thompson (9 Jean Carlos Solorzano 46’), 12 Rodrigo Vargas, 13 Diogo Ferreira, 15 Tom Pondeljak, 16 Carlos Hernandez (11 Marcelo Rojas 46’), 18 Daniel Allsopp, 19 Isaka Cernak (25 Luke O’Dea 76’), 23 Adrian Leijer (4 Petar Franjic 46’).
Yellow cards: Petar Franjic 59’.
Los Angeles Galaxy:
12 Josh Saunders, 2 Todd Dunivant (15 Dan Keat 83’), 5 Sean Franklin (7 Jovan Kirovski 65’), 8 Chris Birchall (26 Michael Stephens 46’), 10 Landon Donovan, 14 Robbie Keane (32 Jack McBean 85’), 17 Adam Cristman, 18 Mike Magee (29 Dasan Robinson 46’), 20 A J Dela Garza, 23 David Beckham (3 Gregg Berhalter 89’), 27 Bryan Jordan (30 Paolo Cardozo 46’).