Melbourne Victory stole a late win from Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Saturday night, with Leroy George’s sublime efforts steering his side to a 3-2 triumph.
Perth opened the scoring inside two minutes, with Scott Neville heading home after some lackadaisical defending and concentration from Kevin Muscat’s men.
James Troisi equalised in the 27th minute with a scrappy goal, slamming the ball in from close range after a saved shot and scramble from George.
Matthew Acton kept the scores locked in just his second start for the Victory, saving tremendously from Adam Taggart just past the half hour mark.
Mark Milligan then gave the hosts the lead just after the restart, when he bundled the ball home from a superb George free-kick.
The Victory failed to capitalise on a number of chances to kill the game off though, which allowed Diego Castro to equalise in the 83rd minute with an exquisite chip over Acton, amid some controversy involving the VAR during the aftermath.
Besart Berisha hit the post moments later – although it appeared to strike his hand – after another scintillating delivery from George, but the winner came through Kosta Barbarouses. The Kiwi finished brilliantly into the bottom left corner, with Melbourne’s Dutch import once again the provider.
Assist king George at his brilliant best
The Victory’s star was instrumental in turning around their early deficit and ensuring his side took all three points away from AAMI Park.
The Dutchman used his trickery and intelligence to keep the Glory defence on the back foot, with his unpredictability and class on the ball being too much for the visitors to handle.
It was impossible for the Perth back four to know George’s next move, as he very quickly became Melbourne’s biggest threat and looked the most likely to haul his side back into the match.
Three more assists tonight makes it 11 goals created in the A-League so far, a tremendous return for the Victory’s new signing during his first season in Australia.
The quality of his delivery was a constant threat to Perth’s defence, as each time the ball was at his feet there was an expectation that he would create something for his team.
If not for George’s impact, the Victory would have been facing a third game without triumph, and the 30-year-old was fully worthy of his Man of the Match honours.
Perth fail to build on strong start
After taking an early lead, Perth would have been confident of taking an important three points back across the country, but it was not to be.
The Glory failed to capitalise on their early advantage and dropped their intensity, allowing Muscat’s team back into the game as the hosts began to dominate.
Perth let the opposition control possession as they struggled to keep hold of the ball and string together passages of play through the midfield.
Bar the one denial from Adam Taggart, and the two goals, Acton had very little to do in the way of saves or key interventions, as the Glory struggled to feed Andy Keogh up front and create any meaningful chances.
A win for Kenny Lowe’s men would have placed them just one point behind the Victory and on the brink of the top six, but instead they will have extra ground to make up in order to establish a spot in the finals.
Victory back to winning ways
After two games without a win, Kevin Muscat’s side came out on top in what was an important match for them to solidify their own top six intentions.
The hosts showed excellent character throughout the entirety, as they won a game in which they came from behind and needed a late winner to settle it.
George and Barbarouses made the difference, with Troisi also particularly impressive for the Victory, who have now opened up a seven-point gap between themselves and the seventh placed Glory.
Muscat’s men kept the pressure on their crosstown rivals City in the third position in the league, and the Victory will be hoping to achieve greater consistency in their performances as they look to clinch another finals berth.