A four-nil win for Melbourne Victory over New Zealand Knights marked its return to Olympic Park last night for what may be its last game at the venue.
The New Zealand Knights side was a mixture of regular Knights players, New Zealand internationals and a couple of local Australian-based players, Jeff Fleming and Fernando de Moraes.
This followed the withdrawal of the Knights’ licence earlier in the week and its take-over by the Football Federation of Australia.
Victory welcomed back Scottish midfielder Grant Brebner and skipper Kevin Muscat also took his place alongside him in the engine-room.
In the early exchanges the home team could not find its men with its passes and it was the Knights which was more threatening with Noah Hickey and Alen Marcina having good shots at the end of decent moves.
Adiran Leijer finally forced a corner after 25 minutes which Adrian Caceres dropped on to the head of Rodrigo Vargas at the far post, but the defender put it over the bar.
Then in the next attack Archie Thompson’s cross just eluded the lunging Danny Allsopp.
It had been a very scrappy first half to this point with only the continual chanting of the Victory fans to keep the tempo going, but in 35 minutes Victory got a free kick just outside the box.
Muscat took it quickly while the Knights defence was retreating and Caceres drove the ball across goal where Allsopp was clearly offside.
The big striker was allowed to continue and he planted the ball past Mark Paston for his tenth goal of the season.
Four minutes later Vargas found Caceres with the outside of his foot and the winger ran past two defenders before thundering the ball into the net.
That took the pressure off the home team and the fans unrolled their ‘Premiers’ banner for the first time.
In the last minute of regulation time in the first half, Allsopp took a pass from Thompson, ignored two fellow attackers and drove the ball home at the near post for Victory’s third goal.
In the 48th minute the Victory got another free kick when Allsopp was pulled down.
Muscat lifted the ball over the New Zealand wall to Thompson who only had to roll it into the net to make it four-nil at half-time.
The second half was a stroll in the park for the Victory which gave the fans time to serenade their heroes, with crowd favourite Alessandro performing some of his Brazilian tricks.
The man of the match was Steve Pantelidis who performed three or four roles in midfield and defence in a selfless exercise for the team.
The four-nil win secured the top spot in the league for the Victory and guaranteed entry to Asian competition in 2008.
The crowd of 15, 563 kept Victory well ahead of the rest of the league in attendance.