Melbourne Victory defeated City rivals 2-1 at AAMI Park in yet another enthralling installment of their derby rivalry on Friday night.
It was the tie-breaker of derbies this season, with both sides holding one triumph each and the match delivered everything fans had hoped for.
Goals to Kosta Barbarouses and Leroy George were enough for the hosts to see off Bruno Fornaroli’s equaliser – grinding out a 2-1 win.
Officials get big decisions right
The visitors initially thought they had scored the fastest goal in Melbourne Derby history, and while it was awarded, Barbarouses’ finish was soon ruled out by the VAR – with Besart Berisha’s offside run impeding the resulting passage of play.
Another memorable incident in the match was the penalty awarded early in the second half, after Leigh Broxham made a challenge and the ball struck his arm. Although it was accidental, the Victory player had his limb raised and the deflection shut down a City attack.
Comprehensive win for Victory
After Barbarouses’ first minute strike was ruled out for offside, Victory did not lose focus and remained resilient to take a 1-0 lead after 12 minutes.
The New Zealand international was picked out by a Berisha’s through ball and made sure his second attempt would not be denied with a well-timed run.
Broxham made amends when his lobbed pass found George, who headed home to put his side back in front. In the latter stages of the match, Kevin Muscat’s side were often on the back foot defending the lead, and George was once again the x-factor antagonist, showcasing his trickery with a nutmeg on Scott Jamieson.
It was a solid display from the Victory – who now sit a point behind their crosstown rivals and level on goal difference. They now look nothing like the side that started the 2017-18 season so poorly.
Daniel Arzani was the standout player for Warren Joyce’s side in the first half. The young talent, attempted a couple of shots on target, including a near post effort that nearly caught out Lawrence Thomas.
The closest the hosts came to scoring was Jamieson’s free kick that struck the woodwork.
City continued to push forward looking for an equaliser and 10 minutes into the second half the hosts were awarded a penalty which was converted by Fornaroli – an important goal for the Uruguayan after enduring an injury-marred campaign.
Luke Brattan was again solid in midfield and Bruce Kamau also had a big influence – always looking dangerous on the ball and creating some great chances.
The hosts came agonisingly close on a couple of occasions, but could not equalise for a second time.
Tensions boil over midway
On the stroke of half-time, Thomas Deng was tackled and appeared unhappy with the challenge – retaliating by giving Jamieson a one-handed shove in the back.
The majority of players from both sides came rushing over to get involved in a scrap, where Manny Muscat and Deng both received yellow cards.