Melbourne Victory defeated Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 at AAMI Park in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night.
Early in the match it looked as if the visitors would control the proceedings, but as the hosts found their footing the belief continued to increase for Kevin Muscat’s men.
It was a good attacking start to the second half, but often the final product was missing for the hosts.
Kosta Barbarouses found the breakthrough in the 90th minute following a short pass from Terry Antonis, as the New Zealand international struck the ball in at the near post.
It was arguably the best defensive display of the season from Muscat’s men.
From Lawrence Thomas to Thomas Deng, the entire Victory defensive unit produced strong displays at the back and offensively.
Thomas produced a couple of fantastic saves in the first half, including a long range effort he tipped onto the crossbar. In the late stages the shot-stopper reacted promptly on a deflection to keep his side in it.
Stefan Nigro and Deng looked comfortable, and the defence as a whole settled well in retaining possession from 15 minutes in and onwards.
Deng’s strike from outside the box was not far off and James Donachie had a couple of big chances in the second half with both headers going wide.
Promising signs from Victory’s youngsters following the departure of Jason Geria.
Around the hour mark youngster Josh Hope came on in place of Nigro, which saw Josh Hope slot into midfield with Leigh Broxham moving into left-back.
Besart Berisha was furious when his number showed up on the substitution board 70 minutes into the contest. His last contribution for his side was being caught offside following a brilliant through ball from George that put the stiker in a one-on-one position.
Berisha and offsides have become a common theme on too many occasions in recent matches – thwarting promising attacks.
His best chance came in the first half where he put a close range header agonisingly close to hitting the back of the net.
Victory’s final change was Christian Theoharis for Leroy George with 10 minutes to play and the 20-year-old filled the void well, getting into dangerous positions in behind the opposition.
Hope made an important contribution late on in the dying stages, shutting down an attack with a well-timed challenge on the edge of the area
Victory extended its unbeaten home run in the competition to 12 and now sit on five points, four ahead of Kawasaki with two matches remaining. If Shanghai SIPG FC defeat Ulsan Hyundai Victory will be level on points with the current second placed outfit.