Melbourne Victory 3 Wellington Phoenix 1
Melbourne Victory finally got the result its coach and players had been seeking in front of 14.023 fans at AAMI Park on Sunday evening winning by three goals to one.
The margin could have been much greater but for a series of misses, particularly by Harry Kewell who could easily have had four goals in a six minute spell in the second half.
One of these would have been a candidate for goal of the season as he found his old dribbling skills and shimmed past three defenders to find himself on his favoured left foot and only the keeper to beat.
He fired the ball well over the bar and no wonder he was beating the ground in frustration thereafter.
Long before this Victory had secured the result with three first half goals.
Carlos Hernandez spotted Billy Celeski wide on the left and his cross was met by a glancing header from Archie Thompson which flew over Tony Warner and into the far corner of the net in the 4th minute.
That settled any Victory nerves but the second had a touch of fortune about it.
In the 22nd minute Hernandez drove what might have been a shot or a cross, but it took a fierce deflection off Vince Lia and wrongfooted the keeper for the second Victory goal. ‘Ouch’ said the Victory banner.
The third goal followed three minutes later.
Kewell crossed from deep on the left and when Hernandez and Ben Sigmund rose together the ball broke kindly for Diego Ferreira who volleyed it back into the right hand top corner.
Phoenix had its chances and Tim Brown put a free header wide just after Victory got its opener.
Alex Smith headed a Leo Bertos free kick over the bar in 38 minutes.
Victory left out Rodrigo Vargas, with Petar Franjic retaining his spot.
The youngster had an outstanding game punctuated by a severe clash of heads with former Victory player Nick Ward.
Ward was substituted but Franjic was bandaged up and played on, heading the ball on several occasions when necessary.
Victory had no defenders on the bench, which had Danny Allsopp, Marco Rojas and Isaka Cernak as the outfield players. All got a run late in the game.
Phoenix missed in-form striker Paul Ifill, but former Victory midfielder Vince Lia held his place.
Billy Celeski picked up two silly bookings and was sent off in 78 minutes, which allowed Phoenix back into the game.
Alex Smith cut in from the right beating two defenders and hit the ball with the outside of his right foot inside the near post in the 85th minute.
Two more Phoenix chances went begging and had either gone in the last few minutes might have been fraught for Victory, but it played out time with no further alarms.
Mehmet Durakovic argued that the team had been playing good football in recent weeks and this time it got its reward, but the high quality of the first half was not sustained.
Ricky Herbert thought that the recent spate of matches and the consequent travel had taxed his small squad and Phoenix certainly missed the predatory Paul Ifill, who would have buried some of the chances his team created.
Melbourne Victory 3 (Archie Thmpson 4’, own goal 22’, Diego Ferreira 25’) Wellington Phoenix 1 (Alex Smith 85’)
Sunday 18 December 2011
Venue: AAMI Park
Local Kick Off: 5:00pm
Referee: Matt Gillett
Assistant Referees: Luke Brennan and Hakan Anaz
Fourth Official: Alex Azcurra
Melbourne Victory Squad:
21.Ante Covic, 2.Matthew Foschini, 3.Fabio, 4.Petar Franjic, 6.Leigh Broxham, 10.Archie Thompson (11.Marco Rojas 76’), 13.Diogo Ferreira, 14.Billy Celeski, 16.Carlos Hernandez (18.Danny Allsopp 72’), 20.Lawrence Thomas, 22.Harry Kewell (19.Isaka Cernak 82’), 23.Adrian Leijer
Unused substitutes: 20. Lawrence Thomas.
Yellow cards: Harry Kewell 15’, Billy Celeski 19’ & 78’, Leigh Broxham 29’
Red cards: Billy Celeski 78’
Wellington Phoenix Squad:
20, Tony Warner, 2. Manny Muscat, 4. Brent Griffiths (11. Daniel Cortes 64’), 6. Tim Brown, 7. Leo Bertos, 9. Chris Greenacre (14. Mirjan Pavlovic 64’), 12. Nicky Ward (21. Dani Sanchez 67’), 17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund, 22. Andrew Durante, 24. Alex Smith
Unused substitutes: 1. Mark Paston,
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil