In a close war-of-attrition between two Melbourne rivals, it was Melbourne Victory who came out on top to progress with a 1-0 lead into the second leg of the A-League Men Semi-Finals.
In what was a sluggish and slow opening 45 minutes, neither side were able to break the deadlock as both sides headed into the sheds locked in at 0-0.
In the opening five minutes of the second-half Western United marksman, Aleksandar Prijovic had a golden opportunity to put his side ahead but the 32-year-old squandered his chance to put the Green and Black ahead.
The missed chance for Western United came back to haunt them in the 72nd minute as Jake Brimmer produced another worldie to put the away side in front.
Off a corner, the ball dropped towards the 24-year-old who used the pace of the ball to place his shot into the top left-hand corner of Jamie Young’s goal to the delight of the Melbourne Victory fans.
Again, Western United failed to convert another chance given to them as Dylan Perias was only inches away from restoring parity late on after a ball across the face of goal nearly resulted in the equaliser.
Those two chances missed for John Aloisi’s side only proved costly as they went down 1-0 in a narrow defeat to the 2021/22 FFA Cup Champions at AAMI Park.
VICTORY’S SLOW START NEARLY PROVES COSTLY:
After having the past weekend off due to finishing second, the Victory came out of the blocks extremely slowly on Tuesday evening.
Caught in behind, Melbourne Victory full-back Jason Davidson very nearly gave away a penalty in the opening minutes as he collided with speedster Lachlan Wales inside the box.
However, referee Alireza Faghani decided against giving the home-side a penalty so early on after a whole host of pressure from the Green and Black.
The full-field press from Western United continued to cause headaches for the Victory players all evening long and very nearly caused Davidson to give away a foul and potentially give United a chance to take the lead in the first-half.
Despite being the “away” team, the Northern Terrace was in full voice at AAMI Park as their vocal noise helped spur Victory on to a 1-0 result
Now with the final tie between the two sides being played at a more family-friendly time, the Victory faithful will be out in full-force to help push home their side to another A-League Grand-Final.
To the delight of the Northern Terrace and Victory fans, they won’t have to travel far after facing Western United as they once again take on the Green and Black at AAMI Park this Sunday.
ZEROS TO HEROES
Nobody would have been able to predict the catastrophic season that Melbourne Victory had last season but the turn-around under Tony Popovic has been nothing short of remarkable.
Under the former Asian Champions League-winning coach, Popovic has not only rebuilt the Victory squad but steered the ship around completely as he lead his side to an FFA Cup victory over Central Coast Mariners in January while guiding his squad to a second-placed finish.
Now with one foot into the A-League Men Grand Final, the players of Melbourne Victory would love nothing more than to reach the spectacle after finishing in such a lowly position last season.
Further, the added potential of facing another cross-town rival in Melbourne City will only motivate the Victory squad even more to reach the A-League Men Grand Finale.
A-League Men Semi-Final Leg One, AAMI Park
Western United 0
Melbourne Victory 1 (Jake Brimmer 74m)