Victory bounce back
Sunday, 21 October 2007

Carlos Hernandez
Carlos Hernandez

Melbourne Victory have bounced back to form with goals from Carlos Hernandez and Archie Thompson giving the Hyundai A-League champions a 2-1 win over Perth Glory at Telstra Dome.

It was a game of contrasting halves with Melbourne taking a 2-0 lead after just 34 minutes courtesy of a cracking first Hyundai A-League goal by Costa Rican international Hernandez which was followed up by a tap-in from Thompson. Jamie Harnwell completed the entertaining first half with a header to give the Glory hope of a comeback.

But Perth is still awaiting its first win of the 2007/08 season after a more circumspect second half saw the chances dry up, and Melbourne successfully preserve its one-goal advantage to claim its third win of the year and move back into the top four at the conclusion of round nine.

Coach Ernie Merrick described the opening 25 minutes as the best football Melbourne had played all year.

"It was like all skill in the first half, and all effort in the first half. It was a very important game to win, and the boys did very well." he said. "I'd say it was (the best they'd played all season)."

Perth coach Ron Smith said the Glory needed a bit of fortune to fall their way, but they didn't get the breaks when the chances to equalise came.

"We haven't had really many breaks and that was one we could have done with today. I don't think there were too many chances for either side today. There's always scary moments, when you play Melbourne, and I thought they played well today," he said. "They were out to make amends for last week's performance (a 4-1 loss to Adelaide) and they did that."

The home side created all the early opportunities with Thompson forcing a save from Perth 'keeper Tando Velaphi in just the second minute. The Melbourne No.10 was looking the man most likely to score and was set free on goal by an exquisite long pass by Grant Brebner in the 12th minute, only to be thwarted by a robust challenge from Jamie Coyne. Seconds later, it was Hernandez setting up Thompson but the shot was tame.

Joe Keenan was very busy, giving the Victory a strong avenue down the left. He put through Danny Allsopp, but the stand-in skipper again made it too easy for Velaphi.

The opener came down the opposite side as Hernandez, who had the best game of his short career for Melbourne, played a one-two with Thompson before slamming the ball home emphatically on a tight angle in the 26th minute.

Within seconds Allsopp spoilt a second excellent chance, shooting well over when one-on-one with the under-siege Velaphi. Michael Theoklitos was nowhere near as busy as his opposite number in the first 30 minutes, with Perth's attacking forays usually coming from set-pieces which were doing little to trouble the Melbourne defence.

Melbourne was much better from its set-pieces and Matthew Kemp delivered the corner in the 33rd minute which resulted in the second goal. Vargas rose over Nikolai Topor-Stanley and while Thompson appeared to tap the ball into the net from close range, the goal was initially credited to the defender. An FFA review determined that Thompson had scored the goal.

Perth eventually presented a first challenge for Theoklitos, Naum Sekulovski producing an excellent header which forced the Victory keeper into a desperate save. Harnwell then should have done better from some clever work from James Downey, with the ball getting caught under the veteran's feet with an open goal beckoning.

He made amends in the 43rd minute with Topor-Stanley beating Kemp to the ball on the left and finding Harnwell unmarked only eight yards out. Theoklitos got a hand to the header but couldn't stop it going in. Coyne then went within a foot of equalising just before the break, smashing a 30-yard shot just over.

Perth looked determined to build on that momentum early in the second half, but was unable to create much from several half chances. The tempo dropped off markedly from the pulsating first half and Merrick sought to inject some spark back into his team by bringing on Leandro Love for Keenan.

But it was one of the Glory's substitutes, Nick Rizzo, on for Sekulovski, who had the next decent chance, driving the ball straight at Theoklitos. The Victory's best chance of the half saw Kemp lob over the bar after being put through by Allsopp.

Perth surged forward in the final ten minutes in hope of an equaliser with Topor-Stanley's run eventually setting up Nikita Rukavytsya, but the substitute's effort didn't worry the assured Melbourne custodian.

In the final minute, Thompson again out-paced his opponent on the counter-attack, however his cross rolled across the goal unmet. The majority of the 25,598-strong crowd were not fazed as the Victory took home all three points.

Melbourne Victory 2 (Hernandez 26, Vargas 34)
Perth 1 (Harnwell 43)
Crowd: 25,598

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