Melbourne Victory showcased itself as a title contender, bouncing back from last week’s disappointing loss to Perth with a confident 2-1 win over Adelaide United in a pulsating encounter at Coopers Stadium.
Adelaide dominated possession in the opening stages but struggled to progress into midfield, Victory looked to play on the counter and exploit Adelaide’s ageing backline.
Marco Rojas had two massive opportunities to put the Victory in front near the end of the first half, Josh Cavallo was caught out defensively on two occasions – first being bailed out by James Delianov and then the woodwork.
Jason Davidson thought he put the visitors in front just after half-time, but it was ruled out for offside after Francesco Margiotta was adjudged to impede the vision of Delianov, replays showed he was offside by just millimetres.
The Victory would break the deadlock moments later, a Jake Brimmer firebolt was brilliantly saved by Delianov before Marco Rojas managed to cleverly tee up Margiotta for his first A-League Men’s goal in his first start.
Despite being under the kosh for the majority of the game, Adelaide managed to find a late burst after going behind, Craig Goodwin forcing a magnificent double save from Ivan Kelava in a rare foray forward.
Just moments later they found a something from nothing, a goal mouth scramble resulting in Matthew Spiranovic putting the ball into his own net.
That goal seemed to galvanise the Reds, Mohamed Toure using his pace to surge beyond the Victory defence before his shot was saved by Kevala.
It didn’t remain all square for long though, a spectacular Melbourne move, featuring a superb cross from substitute Robbie Kruse resulting in a first A-League goal for youngest Nishan Velupillay.
Jason Davidson will miss next week’s Melbourne Derby after picking up a red card for a second bookable defence after a tackle on Bernardo Oliveira. Tony Popovic also confirmed that Chris Ikonomidis could return from injury against City after training with the group this week.
In previous seasons it appeared the Original Rivalry had lost a bit of spark, with attendances dwindling and a bit of on-field edge lost. However this was a match reminiscent or the ‘original’ years of the Original Rivalry, with tackles flying in and plenty of work to be done by referee Adam Kersey. The most notable of these cards was Kusini Yengi’s for simulation, Yengi appeared to be in on goal in the first half before taking a tumble to try and win a penalty, after originally fending off the pressure of Roderick Miranda.
There was no simulating the animosity in the stands though, the Victory fans travelled in their hundreds and provided the soundtrack to a pulsating encounter.
ADELAIDE‘S DEFENSIVE WOES
With Nick Ansell out injured and Javi Lopez suspended Carl Veart made the surprising decision to start Juande at Centre-Back ahead of George Timotheou. The gamble didn’t pay off, the Reds were frequently at sixes and sevens at the back with Jacob Tratt and Josh Cavallo both having games to forget.
With Ansell set to be out for a long time after an a his shirt could be seen on the bench in tribute, Veart will need to find a solution to the defensive frailties expoited by Popovic’s side. Without a win in four, Adelaide is now off to its worst start to the season since the 2016/17 campaign.
VICTORY TO CONTEND
Despite a poor performance last week against the Glory, Victory showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Showing off its embarrassment of riches up front, Kruse and D’Agostino both represent fantastic options from the bench, while an early goal for Margiotta is sure to be a monkey off the back for the Italian.
The Victory looked out to prove a point after last week’s horror show, with Victory perhaps deserving of more than just a one goal win.
A-League Men Round Four, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United 1 (Spiranovic O.G. 71′)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Margiotta 59, Velupillay 78′)
HOW DID THE MANAGERS REACT?
Adelaide United: Carl Veart
“We gave it away, they didn’t win it we gave it to them.”
“I didn’t think that should have been a yellow card (for Kusini Yengi’s dive), when you’re 100 kilos running as fast as you can it’s hard to stay upright.”
Melbourne Victory: Tony Popovic
“First half was a fantastic display with so many chances created, we would have liked to go in front in the first half.”
“The players that came on had a good impact and in the end we had to be tough to hold on for the three points.”
“We haven’t been able to find stability in our team yet but we’re picking up points and we’re showing fantastic.”