'A lot to like' about Honda-less victory, says Muscat

Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat remained in a buoyant frame of mind despite watching his side concede in stoppage time in Saturday evening’s Melbourne Derby.

Victory looked on course for a seventh successive win after Ola Toivonen’s well-taken goal, a result that would have taken them to the top of the Hyundai A-League table.

But City levelled through Dario Vidosic in the 92nd minute, ensuring both sides were forced to share the spoils at AAMI Park.

REPORT: City snatch late leveller in Melbourne Derby
ANALYSIS: Victory's worrying second-half trend
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Victory were playing without star midfielder Keisuke Honda but controlled the match and Muscat was particularly pleased with his side’s second-half performance.

“Because the goal comes late, very late in the piece, it can feel like you lost the game,” he told reporters.

“But the reality is we’ve drawn the game. I thought there was a lot to like about our performance tonight.

“In the first half we were playing some good stuff without hurting them too much, without, you know, really asking some questions.

“And then the second half I thought we upped the intensity, upped the amount of passes we played forward, asked more questions of them and scored an excellent goal, scored a tremendous goal.

“In the end, you concede a goal in the 92nd minute. That’s life.”

Muscat said Victory took a precaution with Honda ahead of a busy period that sees them play seven matches in less than a month.

“I could just sense that he was a little bit fatigued. I just had a feeling,” Muscat said.

“And then [I had] a discussion with him on Thursday, kept him inside on Friday and made the decision today to leave him out.”

“It’s not directly the hamstring, he’s got a bit of fatigue and tightness in his lower back, so we’ll do all the necessary tests and scans and get to the bottom of it.

“But I don’t envisage it [Honda’s period of absence] will be too long.”

Melbourne City boss Warren Joyce thought his side should have been “goals up at half time” and was disappointed with the goal they conceded.

But the spirit and determination showed by City pleased Joyce as they successfully fought for an equaliser.

“[It was a] poor goal to concede, really,” he said.

“We’ve looked and worked on things this week about the big fella [Toivonen] isolating himself at the back post and drifting there.

“We’ve also worked on stopping crosses but we were poor … and gifted them a goal, really.

“I thought [we] showed tremendous spirit, the way we drove the game relentlessly to get something right at the death.”